Ristorante San Marco is just a short walk down Clapham High Street from the station. We visited early on a Sunday evening with no reservation necessary, although it was very busy by 9:30pm when we left.
The eating area is bright and airy, with a large sky-light bringing in natural sunshine and street-facing windows. Look out for the huge chandelier with its real candles rather than relying on electrical light. Independent from any chain, the manager and owner was there taking orders and overseeing matters on the day we ate and the majority of the staff were Italian.
The ristorante offers a selection of traditional Italian dishes, with bread, olives and pinzimonio oil provided as part of the £1.50 per table cover charge. Antipasti range from Mediterranean grilled vegetables at £6 to pan-seared queen scallops served with chick peas, courgette and chilli at £7.90. Pasta courses include meat lasagne or tagliatelle with asparagus, mushrooms, tomato and cream both at £7.80 or duck risotto in ragout with porcini mushrooms at £8.
Salads are all priced under £8 and meat or fish dishes ranged from £9 for filled chicken breast wrapped in pancetta with vegetable timbale to fresh seafood casserole cooked in white wine, tomato and garlic for £14.90. There were also specials of the day priced between £5.80 and £7.90 for starters or £8.90 to £15.90 for mains, and a choice of eight pizzas starting from £6.90.
To start, we went for a pizza-size garlic and tomato bread to share (£3.50) plus steamed mussels in white wine, tomato and garlic (£6.50). The bread was good, although the tomato taste somewhat overrode the garlic, and the plate of mussels was larger than expected with fat mussels full of flavour. Although the specials looked good, we went for pizza.
The waiting staff were flexible enough to swap the Buffalo mozzarella for ordinary mozzarella on one of the two Margherita Di Bufala pizzas at £6.90 each. I went for the most expensive pizza Ð smoked cheese with fresh tomatoes, grilled aubergines and wild porcini mushrooms Ð at £8.80. There’s a range of Italian desserts.
Italian bottled beers such as Peroni are on offer and there’s an extensive wine list with glasses of house wine starting from £3.50.
The total bill came to just under £52 for three people for our shared starters, three pizzas plus water, three bottled beers and one espresso. The servings were generous, the food tasty and good value for money and the waiting staff friendly. Having the owner-manager present emphasised the family-run feeling of the place, as did the free limoncello shots provided to us by the owner following a short discussion about the pros and cons of different Italian towns.