As we sat towards the back of Osteria dell’Arte, the skylight at the center of the roof gave way to warm sunshine. The waiters would chatter away in Italian, soft whispers among the wooden tables and chairs. Closing my eyes, I could easily have been transported back to a little restaurant in Rome, a little cafe on an alleyway in Venice. There was authenticity here that pulled you in gently.
If you have ever gone to Covent Garden and never gone inside the Build-a-bear shop, you have wasted your life, my friend. There is just a certain excitement about creating something. About mixing and matching. Getting it just how you like it – no compromises, no shame. PizzaBuzz is the Build-a-bear of the food world. Move over, average pizza joint. There’s a new favorite in town.
The number of people per square meter ratio is usually a good indicative of whether a place is good or not – especially true in Asia – or, in today’s world, of whether something is popular (I’m looking at you Bone Daddies). In truth, I am often dismayed by loud, noisy environments, full of people and invasion of private space. That’s how we ended up in The Piadina Project.
As “ice-cream” rolled off the imaginary tongue of my mind, thoughts of warm halcyon days arose, equipped with the generic flavoured frozen water we call gelato. Few understand the full potential that ice-cream can have within gastronomy, with notable names such as Heston Blumenthal being one, but it seems Mantovani 1946 also understand that this can truly be an art.
All roads lead to Rome, the saying goes, and in truth that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The city – beautiful enough to feature in an Assassin’s Creed game – abounds of character, pickpockets and amazing food at every corner. Yet Italian food has been on a qualitative decline in London in my past few sojourns; that’s why it was quite nice to be able to try out Pasta Remoli which managed to pull the cuisine from sinking further into the abyss.
La Porchetta has become the go-to post-Sadler’s Wells dinner venue for me for some time, even though most of the time not because of its dazzling interior or divine food, as much as due to proximity and reasonable pricing. Often, that is all one is looking for.
I fondly remember the days when Italian restaurants meant romantic dates (yes there was indeed such a sweet, innocent period in my life) and good food. Carluccio’s, if anything, proves once more how Italian food has lost its shine in London, and everything is just bland and sad.