Tucked away from the rush and noise of Oxford St lies one of the best little italian's in London. It may not have ingredients flown in daily from Italy, a tempremental chef or a menu that stretches the boundaries of gastronomy but it does make consistently great tasting food served in a friendly buzzy atmosphere. If yoou want a plate of pasta some lovely fresh pizza's a glass of good standard red then Il Pizzaiolo is the place for you.
I have been coming here for years. It used to be my father's favourite spot for lunch, people still talk about the time he had too much Limoncello after lunch and tripped A over T on his return to work. As a treat I was often taken here so we could catch up and I could hopefully justify what I was getting up to at university. When I then started work in the West End it became a tradition to grab lunch here every Friday. My office subsequently moved and I still pop back from time to time. I even introduced my wife to this venerable institution and if she out shopping she will usually come here for lunch. On Monday she was up in town so we decided to pop back for another visit.
Il Pizzaiolo is quite small but they make good use of the space, there is a little pavement area outside, main resaurant with gives onto the open kitchen and pizza oven as well as a downstairs which is often hired out for functions (my brother had his 21st here). Space is at a premium so the heavy wood tables are pretty close together. The walls are covered in huge murals depicting all things Italian. I remember it being painted years ago with the artist working around the patrons. It generally fills up quickly at lunchtime, if you get here after 1 you may not get a table. you get a really nice mixture of people in here the usual tourists and shoppers but mainy west End workers and business people come here. There is a good portion of regulars who know they are guaranteed a great feed.
On Monday we came in early, and ordered a couple of pizza's, my personal favourite is the an uncooked one with mozarella , basil and parma ham. My wife had a cooked one with anchovies and olives. One of the chef's was throwing out the dough in front of us so we knew it was all freshly made. The pizza's were great, generous size and plenty of toppings. I washed it down with a glass of very quaffable red wine. It is a great place to catch up and the atmosphere is very friendly helped along by some great staff. The bill came to just over £30 for lunch and a few drinks which was a bargain in my book.
There are a lot of places that claim to be the best italian in London. I went to one of the most reviewed one's recently "Stef's" and was sorely dissapointed. I felt I needed to come back here to be reminded how good heart Italian food can be and what proper hospitality is. I've never had a bad meal here and the restaurant holds some wonderful memories for me. The cooking may not push boundaries here but how often do you find somewhere that consistantly delivers over a 15 year period. It's the little restaurant with a big heart, long may it continue.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10
A great option if you are shopping on Oxford St