Vasco & Piero's Pavilion

Italian·
££££
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Silver Award
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SquareMeal Review of Vasco & Piero's Pavilion

Silver Award

They don’t make them like this anymore. Vasco & Piero’s Pavilion has been feeding Londoners since 1971 and is pretty much the last surviving example of a type of restaurant you used to find on every street corner in Soho: a family-run enterprise serving classic Italian food.   

Which isn’t to say there’s anything immediately old-fashioned about the place. White-washed walls and dining chairs help the room feel cosy rather than claustrophobic, while sound absorbers on the ceiling mean the room feels buzzy rather than noisy. Instead of muzak, the only soundtrack this place has is the animated chat of contented customers.

Both the food and wine come with the Umbrian accent of the original owners, Vasco and Piero, while day-to-day front-of-house duties these days falls to Vasco’s son Paul, who ensures the smooth running of the place and is on hand to offer recommendations from the long menu. If you’re pressed for time, we’d recommend skipping primi and going straight to pasta, though this is a menu begging for the full four-course traditional Italian experience.

Start, perhaps, with punchy chicken liver crostini, with some marinated mushrooms to cut through the richness. A crisp cylinder of fried cabbage stuffed with meat and tomato is another good shout, while for vegetarians there is baked aubergine with a sweet-sharp red pepper sauce, or a cloud of broccoli and Parmesan soufflé with black truffle sauce.

Pasta is the undoubted highlight of a meal here – thick folds of handmade pappardelle wrapped around deeply flavoured chunks of venison ragu, or tortelloni parcels filled with wild mushrooms, spooned with a silky butter sauce.

That’s not say that main courses are slouches, though: our calf’s liver was best-in-class stuff, the meat cooked to well-time tenderness and topped with a soft, sweet tangle of onions, some sautéed cabbage on the side adding fresh-tasting crunch.

Puddings are straightforwardly classic. The childish hit of warm, syrupy banana with vanilla ice cream is enough to satisfy any sweet cravings; a salted caramel martini shaken up by one of the charming waiters offers an altogether more adult way to get your sugar kick.

Prices, while not unreasonable, aren’t exactly old-fashioned either (figure on around £20 for a main course) but where Vasco & Piero’s is still resolutely old-school is in its refusal to turn tables – just the excuse anyone needs to order a glass of something sweet from the wine list and a proper Italian coffee. Nice private room, too.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Italian
Ambience
Cosy, Fun, Lively, Romantic, Traditional
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Birthdays, Celebrations, Child friendly, Dates, Group dining [8+], Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

About

This understated Italian restaurant in Soho serves simple, high-quality and great-tasting fare, without the frills or fuss. It changes its menu twice a day, but always serves its staple fresh pasta plates, with each one based on a few, really good ingredients – in true Italian style. Some of its staff have been with the restaurant for over 20 years and, since opening originally in 1971 on Poland Street, has become something of a legend within London’s restaurant scene. For traditional Umbrian food and an old-school vibe, this is the place to head.  

The interiors exude the comforting vibe of a well-loved neighbourhood restaurant. All the furniture and lighting is from Umbria, while artwork from Italian artists (and occasionally guest artists) line the walls. Overall, the look and feel is modern and sleek, the simplicity of the surroundings mirroring the modest nature of the plates. For private events, guests can hire out The Glass Room, which has its own private bar and looks out across the main restaurant.  

Expect a succession of delicately rendered Umbrian dishes from the ever-rotating menu. Start with a selection of small plates, such as burrata from Puglia with cherry tomatoes and avocado, carpaccio of roast loin of pork with rucola, lemon, olive oil and pecorino and camorza (grilled smoked mozzarella wrapped in parma ham). For mains, opt for one of its fresh pasta plates, such as handmade tagliatelle with traditional Umbrian beef and pork ragu, and a hand-rolled vegetarian lasagne. While larger plates of meat and fish feature grilled fillet of swordfish with red pepper dressing, French beans and lentils, and Tuscan sausages, black truffles, pecorino, pancetta, carrots and cannellini. 

An all-Italian wine list explores the regions, while a couple of classic Italian cocktails, such as prosecco and white peach or a negroni, are also available. 

Vasco & Piero's Pavilion is featured in

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Vasco & Piero's Pavilion
Private Group Dining

Vasco & Piero's Pavilion

Vasco & Piero's Pavilion
Event Party Venue

Vasco & Piero's Pavilion

Location

11 D'Arblay Street, Soho, London, W1F 8DT

020 7437 8774 020 7437 8774

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon 11:30-15:00
Tue 12:00-15:00
Wed 12:00-15:00
Thu 12:00-15:00
Fri 12:00-15:00
Sat Closed
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon 17:00-23:00
Tue 17:00-23:00
Wed 17:00-23:00
Thu 17:00-23:00
Fri 17:00-23:00
Sat 17:00-23:00
Sun Closed

Reviews

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12 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Nicola B

01 November 2023   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Andrea L

29 May 2017  
Authentic Italian at a good price point.

Tim J

28 May 2017  
Understated intimate restaurant serving Umbrian cuisine with dedication and style.

Paul U

05 May 2017  
Great welcoming staff, fantastic food at reasonable prices, delightful wines and conservative decor; you are always made to feel like a part of the family or an old and valued friend; Just perfect!

Mami K

16 May 2016  
Comfort traditional Italian food. Never been disapponted with their food, waiting staff is superb.

Manna P

13 May 2016  
Really good and freshly made food - they boast they don't have a microwave on the property! Service excellent, table layout sometimes is a little too crowded so difficult to get privacy and prices have been creeping up somewhat but overall one of the best!

Paul U

13 March 2014  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Not being a local i needed to find somewhere to take my mother for an after show meal. Searched via Google and this website; it came out as well reviewed and feeling that you are safe with Italian when more senior members of the family are involved i went for it. Very pleasant interior, not trying to be too mediterranean (whitewash and palms! Yuk!), looked fairly steady inside, not too busy. Staff are just the best I've ever found, nothing was too much trouble, extremely polite (she liked that), prompt service with excellently prepared and presented food. Mother didn't want a starter whereas i did, however they kindly brought out a light salad for her to nibble whilst i enjoyed mine. The main course was just perect for both of us, we didn't want dessert but were persuaded, glad they did becasue it was dreamy, all rounded off with an irish coffee. Very reasonable bill considering. Would i go back again? You betcha I would! (may even take my wife as well!)

Samantha L

11 September 2012  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 4.5
It was our first visit to the Pavillion last night and it won't be the last! Friendly staff, nice atmosphere and amazing food! Pesce Spada (Swordfish) dish was to die for, fresh, moist and full of flavor. Couldn't believe the freshness of everything on my plate. We truly felt we could relax and enjoy our meal without having to shout over the table at each other..it was quiet and intimate. Will most definitely be returning, as its so hard to find a decent Italian and this is one of the best in London.

Jon H

16 May 2011  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4.5
I was taken to Vasco's around 12 years ago and instantly fell in love with its charm, atmosphere and wonderful food. The kitchen use fresh and quality seasonal ingredients, give them the simplest and lightest of touches and consistently deliver exceptional Italian dishes. I have eaten there on dates, with team parties, and groups of friends and every time had something that wowed me and made me instantly think it had been too long since I last been. The result was I never wanted to tell anyone about it, Vasco's was like a wonderful secret, just between me and the busy little dining room of other people chatting over sublime dishes and Italian wines. Sadly it is time to tell everyone about it, as the last time I was in Vasco's (a Tuesday evening), it was empty, me and two friends, and a single man in the far corner. With such beautiful pasta, fish and meaty dishes, stunning anti pasti and puddings to die for (the panna cotta and Umbrian cherries a gelatinous trip to gastro heaven, and beyond), the little dining room should not be left so empty. Take the set lunch or pre-theatre menus for stunning deals, or go a little later and linger over the a la carte menu and great wine list. You'll not be disappointed.

Rich M

16 November 2010  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 4
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4
Vasco & Piero's Pavilion has been there for 40 odd years, anonymously squatting on the unlovely Poland Street. Synonymous with London's media scene, it's one of those places that advertising execs used to take folk for a roister-doister, “it's alright, we're not needed back at the office anytime soon, now how about that contract” lunch into afternoon into evening event to celebrate. And in all the times I've been in there, in that state, I've never remembered to ask about the name though… The menu downstairs is set, something I'd be less bothered about if there were more than eight of us. Especially having drooled over the menu upstairs, with its extensive list of pastas and wonderful sounding dishes; lombetto, a cured loin of Umbrian pork, tortellioni of duck or seabass, fennel flavoured salamis, the list goes on… Not having been there for a few years, I was looking forward to this. God knows why, but I went for a standard but unadventurous asparagus and mozzarella starter. Nothing special. It came drizzled with a beautifully fresh, zingy and fragrant basil oil but the trimmed asparagus felt like it hadn't been out of the fridge for long enough. I suppose it's partly my fault for ordering it way out of season. If the starter was a bit of a let down, then the pasta course reminded me why I love good Italian food. Little pockets of silky smooth aubergine ravioli came with tooth sticking aubergine skin fried into tiny tasty splinters scattered atop the sun yellow pasta parcels. The room silenced until the pasta had vanished. The main of duck breast was served simply with green beans, great quality ingredients and lovely with a lipsmacking jus. A simple desert of baked ricotta was slightly spoilt by too sharp raspberries, but was in itself lovely. Like Andrew Edmunds, The Ivy and a number of other little Soho gems, it hasn't changed much in years, and keeps going in such a cutthroat location because it gets the fundamentals right time after time. The chefs inspiration, and many of the ingredients, come from Umbria in central Italy. They cater to a local crowd who know the staff and each other and take the odd party, like us, and shoehorn them away in a downstairs room where they won't disturb the regulars. Not that I minded, it was perfectly pleasant, if a little like dining in a provincial hotel with it's light and forgettable decor. On thing to note about the upstairs is that the noise levels frequently get high. It's not somewhere for a quiet tete a tete (but ideal to tell someone some bad news..)
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