Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Resto 29 Paesano, Glasgow

June 28, 2017

In my brief visit to Glasgow I experienced three world class works of art that nearly reduced me to tears. The first was Seurat’s Boy Sitting in a Meadow in Kelvingrove. Every piece of Seurat’s that I’ve seen is memorable but this is the primus inter pares. Off-kilter simplicity that left me incapable of description. So I just sketched it and wrote ‘This is genius’ at the top edge where he has a strip of abstract sky and ‘As is this’ in the centre of the field which thrives under your eyes. It’s hard to explain.

The second was Chardin’s Lady Taking Tea in the Hunterian. There’s a certain similarity of atmosphere to Seurat’s canvas in that we are witnessing a moment in time, a moment of exquisite stillness. There’s also a similarity in that although both contain a significant human figure it’s the details of the background that grab the attention. In this case the red card table (with its typically open drawer), the brown teapot and the whisp of steam rising from its spout. It is perfection.

It is also flanked by two quieter masterpieces of a Cellar Boy and  Scullery Maid. These are fine pieces of characterisation and empathy. By contrast to the Dutch Masters’ depiction of servants (excepting perhaps De Hooch) Chardin always makes us empathise with his subjects rather than objectify them. And his servants have as much dignity as their masters. I like that.

The third is the pizza dough at Paesano’s. We were seated (after a bit of a wait but we hadn’t booked) next to two tubs of fermenting dough. And then the finished product arrived. Two rough discs of beautifully cooked pizza that I could quite happily have eaten without any topping. But the topping was good too – one of tuscan sausage and asparagus, the other spicy pepperoni and peppers. It was the best pizza I’ve ever had, simple as that. Salads on the side and a bottle of red made me happy, as did the service from cheery Glaswegians.


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 27 Assaggetti, Haymarket

June 14, 2017

On a sunny Monday lunchtime we strolled to Assaggetti tempted by their lunchtime offer of two courses for £16.95. It was a good choice. The room is massive and a trip to the loo can add significantly to your step count if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. Fellow diners were sparse (there’s a lot of competition in this part of London), being mostly office workers as far as I could tell.

The food was good value. Smoked salmon to kick off was a generous enough portion with a drizzle of balsamic and some shavings of sweet onion. The spicy tuscan sausage pizza was delicious and big enough for a larger appetite than I possess. I tried to finish the lot because the crust was delicious but I just didn’t have the capacity. The house white at just over 21 quid a bottle was fine and helped the conversation along.

The one downside for a musically sensitive soul like myself was their decision to play Sting after Sting after Sting. For me a little Sting goes a long way. I didn’t like it. The service however was excellent so if you want a quick cheap lunch around here, and you can tolerate wanky Geordies, Assaggetti isn’t a bad option.

#Food #London


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap



Resto 18 Goppa’s, Hackney

March 28, 2017

Killing time before heading to a gig at MOTH club (one of the best ever!) we were looking for quick food. I couldn’t be tempted by a steakwich at The Globe, even though the company was charming, so we pressed on to Goppa’s, lured by pizza.

On an unprepossessing (but is anywhere in this corner of Hackney prepossessing?) stretch of road Goppa’s is alluring from the outside. A warm room, rough and ready seating and a nice bar with Italian pop tunes on the stereo. I liked it immediately.

The menu is more sophisticated than expected with the usual pizzas but a great variety of pasta as well as a good range of smaller dishes. We went for calamari up front followed by Tuscan sausage pizza with a green salad. The calamari were great – light batter and straight from the pan. I was wondering where the aïoli was but actually they didn’t need a dip. With a squeeze of lemon they were absolutely perfect and I wish I’d had a whole bowl to myself.

The pizza had a good base and plenty of sausagey-mushroom topping. A large one was enough for two to share. The salad was a slight let-down after all this excellence with a bit too much salt in the dressing for my taste but others may differ. With a cheap bottle of white the whole thing came in at about 30% less than you’d pay at a medium-level chain so it was great value too.

Business was slightly slow on a quiet early Monday evening but I expect it’s busier later and at weekends. The staff were really friendly and if I’m back in the area I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again.



#Food #London #Hackney

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Resto #9 Pierino, South Ken

February 6, 2017

Sometimes you’re better off dead

There’s a gun in your hand and it’s pointed at your head

You think you’re mad, too unstable

Kicking up chairs and knocking down tables

Well, it wasn’t that bad – I wasn’t in possession of a firearm and I hadn’t yet assaulted any furniture. I was, however, starving mad. The kind of wild-eyed ‘I should get a kebab’ hunger that only comes over you after spending too long in the pub debating when would be the best time to get something to eat, only to find on emerging onto the street that the ripe time was several hours ago.


So I was hungry and I wanted pizza. Carluccio’s having a ‘ten minute’ waiting time (yeah, right) we roamed the streets and found Pierino. It did the job. I ordered in a hurry – calamari to start was wolf-food, it barely touched the sides. In its brief existence as a course I only had time to note that the chilli sauce was rather ketchupy and had plenty of bite.

The pizza was a magnificently large affair. Quattro stages of good topping and a charred crispy base. I felt its civilising effects wash over me along with a glass of house white. Sanity was restored.

So my review may be slightly biased  but I found Pierino to be the perfect pizza outlet at that point in my life. When we arrived it was rammed with the post-museum crowd and we were very happy to be found a table by a friendly waitress. And for this area it was good value.


#Food #London #Italian

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap



Review #99 Pasta Remoli, Finsbury Park

November 27, 2016

On a Friday night we were looking for quick, simple food and Pasta Remoli pretty much fitted the bill. Their angle is handmade fresh pasta and good Italian ingredients. Celebrating one of the spawn’s achievements we kicked off with a good bottle of Prosecco while munching on a range of antipasti. Tasty dainty arancini and a range of cold bits were all very good.

We each went for a different pasta for main and I have to say that I drew the short straw. A circle of dry ravioli around a sticky dark, sweet sauce with gorgonzola and walnuts was not really to my taste. The other plates looked better and made me wish I’d stuck to something familiar. The house red was better than expected for the price which is always a good thing.

The room was nice and busy with a good atmosphere of theatre-goers and hungry locals. Helped along by excellent service Pasta Remoli seems to be a good value option if you can’t be arsed to walk the extra mile to the Stroud Green Italian Quarter.


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #97 Vapiano, Great Portland Street

November 18, 2016

Looking for a quick healthy lunch we made the mistake of stepping into Vapiano. Inches inside the door we were confronted with an unsmiling host.

‘Have you been to Vapiano before?’ she demanded in a tone reminiscent of a particularly hostile border guard. We replied that we hadn’t. At which we were informed at great speed (too speedy for me to pick up)  of the means of getting food. She then handed us a card. We stumbled, dazed by this charmless welcome, towards queueing customers.

The food looked okay, being cooked before your very eyes by a succession of pan-tossing geezers (all geezers). We waited patiently in a queue of three people. And waited. The queue did not advance. We transferred to another queue. Neither did it advance us towards food.

The decision to return the cards to our host and leave was met with rancorous indifference.

It mystifies me why anyone would ever go back.


Review #68 Getti’s, Jermyn Street

August 8, 2016

Getti’s is an old standby for pizza/pasta in the Piccadilly area and since we’d just exited the Summer Exhibition at the RA (where the only thing that took my eye was an unusually sprightly Anselm Keifer) we thought we’d load up on Italian goodies before heading home.

The crowd is pretty democratic for Jermyn Street – tourists rub shoulders with hedgies – and the room is pleasant, especially if you get a table near the window from which to gaze out on passers-by. A shared calamari to kick off was perfect – crispy batter, tangy garlicky aioli and a bit of salad on the side. This went down with a lashing of Pinot Grigio. Next up my pizza was loaded with good goaty cheese and everything was going swimmingly.

Until the cheese course. Oh dear, the cheese. It came on a bed of limp rocket and was very much a grab bag of stuff that none of us was in a hurry to finish off. The stock of Port had run out (how on earth does that happen in as civilised a location as Jermyn Stree?!) and its replacement, a sweet Sauternes-like liquor, was not really what was wanted on the side of the salty slabs. And it took a long time to get the bill.

So we should have left after the mains but I’ll be back at Getti’s as this is the first time I’ve had a less than excellent experience there and I’m convinced it must have just been an off day.


To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Review #64 San Carlo Cichetti, Covent Garden

July 22, 2016

Prior to going to see the Pet Shop Boys perform at the ROH we were in the market for not dinner exactly but something approaching it. Having managed to avoid getting cichetti in Venice it seemed a bit of catching up on Italian tapas would be in order.

The room on Wellington Street (there’s another branch in Piccadilly) is unexpectedly opulent with faded mirrors (faded to order or actual antiques I couldn’t work out) and marble all over the shop, and waiters in formal uniforms. So quite Venetian in an over the top sort of way but maybe somewhat incongruous if you’re in t-shirt and jeans.

Having tried to conceal how hungry we each of us was from the other we unwittingly went for a carb overload on the ordering front. Bread and olive oil comes as part of the cover charge and on top of that we got a spicy pizza, arancini, calamari, a caprese salad and chilli prawns. The caprese and the prawns (two big ones on a bed of rocket) were a bit on the meagre side but it was a generous helping of calamari and the stand out was a trio of arancini, moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.

There’s quite a mark up on the wine – a smallish glass of bog standard Pinot Grigio came in at over seven quid – but the service was faultless as was the quality of the cooking.

In a way it was very reminiscent of tourist Venice in that most of its clientèle was from Asia or across the pond with locals thin on the ground. Worth going to for a quick early evening bite but not worth making it your main event.


To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here


Review #62 Gelateria Paolin, Venice

July 17, 2016

Being hot, tired and hungrythirsty in Venice with an hour to kill before going to a Vivaldi concert (dial-a-cliché I know) we took a couple of seats out front of Gelateria Paolin with a good view not just of some historical Italian’s backside but also of Venetian life passing by. This is what holidays are for, the bits in between the stuff you’re supposed to do.

Under the shade of the Paolin’s awning we drank cold draught lager and watched tourists stroll by, kids play football, street sellers begin to pack away their wares. A couple of old dears sucked on ciggies and gossipped at the table across from us while pecking at cold bits of melon and speck. Buskers were at a safe enough distance not to ruin the mood.

Given the heat gelato would have been the logical option but I needed a salt top up from sweating around all day and we went for two pizzette – one a plain margerita, the other with spicy sausage. Both were on good, crispy bread and the perfect size for an evening snack. A fresh green salad arrived undressed but with balsamic, olive oil and pepper on the side so that we could do our own.

After demolishing another chilled one it was time to move on to the gig. If only they’d served beer there too I might have made it past the interval.


To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here


Review #49 Osteria Tufo, Fonthill Road

May 29, 2016

Friday by Friday I’m munching my way through all the Italians around Stroud Green and yet after half a dozen I’m still not done! As the proprietor of the WB Yeats noted, there are more pizzerias in N4 per square inch than there are in Naples! But Osteria Tufo is no pizzeria (they don’t serve it), in fact its offering is a cut above your standard pizza/pasta place and is well worth the detour round the back of Finsbury Park tube.

I did well to pop in in person earlier in the evening to reserve as the booking for 7 o’clock was only confirmed after the waitress consulted with her manager and phoned me back. Fonthill Road is not the most picturesque in north London but OT does its best to prettify it with a profusion of foliage out front on the terrace. The room itself is small but open and light. It feels a comfortable place.

We weren’t sure of how much starter to get – I guess we could have asked how substantial they were – and decided to split a salad and some baby octopus between the four of us. The salad of mixed grilled vegetables was tasty but not enough for our purposes. The octopus on the other hand was a generous helping of very tasty babies that I would have consumed as Saturn would devour his own childers if they’d all been left to me.

The mains were a mixture of Italian classics and some more left-field options. Everyone was jealous of the squid ink pasta with seafood. I had a hefty chunk of cod cooked in a delicious soy and sesame sauce. The house white worked very well with all this and we had more wine on top of more wine. Everyone very convivial, including the staff, and thus was I tempted to take on dessert.

My espresso chocolate cup was thick and sticky but not half as enjoyable as the very high quality grappa that came alongside it. I approached it through sniffing. I’ve been hoodwinked by grappa before – sometimes it promises subtlety at first sniff but then just clubs you in the gob and leaves you with heartburn and a headache. Like the Margi Clarke of alcohol. This one not only had the required alcoholic ferocity but also a subtle fruity taste that for one brief moment made me feel that I could be in a Paolo Sorrentino film if only I took on a more world weary demeanour. Like La Fabrica around the corner Osteria Tufo offers West End quality at N4 prices. Recommended.


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap


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