Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3444
Address: 84 Wardour Street, London W1F 0TQ
Cuisine Type: Italian
Leicester Square (PICCADILLY, NORTHERN)
It’s easy to miss this restrained-looking restaurant in the garish environs of Wardour Street but it’s worth finding for its imaginative modern Italian cooking and excellent pizzas. Pale wood and ultra-simple décor provide a calm atmosphere and the staff are efficient and helpful.
There’s a range of ten starters at £6 – £7, almost all of which are also available in main course sizes (£9 – £9.50). I was very tempted by the salad of baby spinach, roasted peppers and salted ricotta with a honey and balsamic vinegar dressing, but went instead for deep fried pumpkin croquettes served with marinated chargrilled radicchio, as a main course. The radicchio was wonderful – perfectly cooked and seasoned with lots of black pepper – but the croquettes were a little disappointing: they could have done with more flavour, and possibly a simple sauce. Other options included buffalo mozzarella with grilled courgettes and sun blush peppers, and a classical Italian vegetable antipasto – in fact this restaurant would be a definite hit for vegetarians.
Pasta dishes also come in a choice of sizes, which makes this a very user-friendly, mix and match menu. The tagliatelle with scallops, courgettes, saffron and garlic sauce sounded particularly good.
The pizzas are large and delicious, a favourite in our party being the pancetta e caprino (mozzarella and goat cheeses, cured Italian bacon and sun blush tomatoes). The Valtellina comes with a huge swathe of bresaola (air cured beef) and the Diavola alla Siciliana includes aubergines as a variant on the standard ‘hot’ option. At £7.50 – £9.50 these are not the cheapest pizzas in town but they certainly are good.
We didn’t make it to the main courses but for £12.50 – £14.50 you have a reasonable choice of interesting fresh meat or fish dishes, including monk fish in balsamic vinegar sauce with spinach and sweet and sour baby onions.
Puddings sounded good too – a home-made lemon and mascarpone tart sounded heavenly but alas, there was no room..
Full marks for an interesting and completely Italian wine list. We took pot luck with a red totally unknown to us – Salice Salentino from Puglia, at £15.50 – and it was soft, smooth and delicious. If you feel like splashing out there are some seriously interesting wines here begging to be sampled, most of them under £30.
The menu changes here every 6 weeks or so (the Christmas menu will shortly be introduced and if the food we had is any guide, has to be more interesting than the average British offering) so don’t expect to find exactly the dishes mentioned here. There’s likely to be something of interest to most people, though.