With a name like Portobello London – and yes, this new ristorante does straddle the corner of Portobello Road, one expects a great glut of Portobello tourist tat and enough Union Jacks to keep a BNP member happy for life. Not at all. True, there’s nothing particularly uber-cool about this W11 Italian, but there’s nothing offensive about the decor either. In fact, it positively brims with warmth, with honey-hued stonework and pale wood furniture – and there’s a glorious smell of herby dough being baked that makes you long to try to food.
The menu descriptions are down-to-earth, yet the cooking is some of the nicest Italian we’ve eaten this side of the Sistine Chapel. We had the Saltimbocca Pizza, followed by Mozzarella alla Milanese and some fried artichokes. The Saltimbocca was a drool-inducing combination of perfect pizza (as opposed to Perfect Pizza) rolled and filled not-so-coyly with mozzarella, finely cut pancetta, rocket and ricotta. Heaven, with just enough chew and delightfully ham-n-cheesey, yet aromatic at the same time. The Mozzarella alla Milanese and fried artichokes arrived soon after. The artichokes were light and piquant, while the deep-fried Mozzarella slice came with a tomato diavola sauce and basil pesto, the home-madeness of the dish taking it out of the ordinary and turning it into one of those meals you find yourself fantasising about.
We asked the waiter to recommend a wine, and we weren’t disappointed by the bottle of Barbera d’Asti that he selected – bold and already beautifully mature on its first opening. We loved our evening at Portobello London, not just for the fabulous food, but for its sheer geniality.