I booked Vasco & Piero’s on the recommendation of a friend with reliable taste and I was not to be disappointed. I must have walked past it hundreds of times without realising that there was even a restaurant within the building. Perhaps the fact that the door is closed leads one to think that V&P is closed for business but thankfully it isn’t.
On a Friday lunchtime the room was busy enough without being packed. Having had quite a long evening at the mixed bag that is Henrietta* the night before I had half a mind on a Vermouth for a brightener while I was waiting for my guest to turn up. Fortunately caution prevailed and I got stuck into the water instead. I took the time to look through the blurb about the restaurant by the menu. V&P is a venerable institution, its origins dating back to the ’50s and some of the artwork and furniture being nearly as old.
The reason for the closed door is that you step from the street straight into the room – there’s a screen to give a sense of arrival. There’s an admirable lack of clutter with a well-stocked bar in the corner and a friendly but professional welcome. The vibe put me in mind of Le Voltaire – it’s the kind of restaurant that would once have been endemic in Soho but whose like has mostly been squeezed out by magazine food-outlets with the lifespan of a mayfly staffed by people who wish they were somewhere else.
The menu promised pasta made on the premises so I was determined to get stuck into that. But first a classic – endive salad with gorgonzola, which was unshowy but delivered crisp endive, spicy gazonga and a well-balanced dressing. The pasta was spinach and ricotta. Again, an unfussy dish but beautifully served. And the pasta was pretty much the best I’ve ever had.
If I hadn’t had a hangover of Amisian proportions I would have gone on to fish or meat. The hang didn’t prevent me from casting an eye over the wine list. An Umbrian red (the family who own the restaurant have Umbrian connections I believe) was spicy enough to hold its own against the cheese and fully justified its plus-£40 tag.
So V&P gets a maximum for being one of those rare restaurants that does apparently simple things flawlessly. Which isn’t simple at all.
*I didn’t pay the bill so it doesn’t come within the rules.
To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap …
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).