|Traditional Italian at Cafe Piccolo|
A local restaurant that serves dishes just like Mamma used to make
If your preference is for Italian restaurants that are slightly old fashioned - the kind of place where good food is served in portions fit for manual workers and that gives you the sneaky feeling there is a Momma in the kitchen keeping an eye on things - then you’ll love Café Piccolo at the King Street end of Chiswick High Road.
Its décor is unashamedly corny: off-yellow walls with Italianate drawings of blue skies, exposed brickwork and cherubs, with lots of over-the-top flourishes and plants everywhere. The great thing is it works; it made me smile as soon as I walked in.
There are nods to more modern cuisine, like bruschetta; home-made fish cakes served with mascarpone and red pepper sauce; and roasted goats cheese with sweet peppers. But by and large the menu us reassuring familiar with old Italian favourites. And, this was a surprise, they do cocktails for a lot less that you can pay at other Chiswick eateries. There’s a big range and they are all £4.50. I settled for a Black Russian with Diet Coke. Great. Next time I’ll have the Margarita.
We started with a shared portion of deep fried mozzarella in breadcrumbs with a tangy tomato sauce and some delicious garlic bread. It was more enough for two. Then I had the melanzane parmigiana . It was exactly as it should have been - slices of soft aubergine swathed in a yummy tomato and cheese sauce with plenty of toast to mop up the juices. I’m a vegetarian and I’m pleased to say there really was plenty of choice. My companion had the Pollo alla Valdosta from the specials selection: tastily grilled chicken breast smothered with hot melted mozzarella and spicy tomato sauce. He declared himself well satisfied and bursting at the seams, particularly as it came with mounds of Momma’s pasta. .
It’s nothing fancy, just good Italian food cooked properly by a chef who knows what he’s doing. For many people, you can’t ask more than that.
Prices are traditional too and excellent value for money. Starters cost from about £3 to £6 and the pizza, pasta, rice selection cost between £6.85 and £8.25. The daily specials cost a bit more at £11 - £16 including vegetables and pasta. And the portions are enormous.
The wine list is mainly Italian with prices ranging between £11.50 and £14.50 but you can pay lots more if you want Barolo or Champagne. We had Sciara rosso, a Sicilian red for £11.50 and it didn’t disappoint; plenty of depth and flavour and warming on a cold night.
The service was very pleasant with waitresses who were friendly without being overwhelming and attentive without being intrusive. The night we were there it was packed with all sorts of groups, from couples to parties and families. It had a great buzz.
There is a lunch menu, £5.95 for two courses. Can’t comment as I didn’t try it but if our meal there is anything to go by, it’s good value. And you’ll have to eat it all, or else Momma won’t be pleased.
February 14, 2006