Portobello Ristorante Pizzeria
'Enjoy a relaxed and indulgent Italian meal' at Portobello Ristorante Pizzeria

Portobello Ristorante Pizzeria

Open Mon–Sat midday–3pm and 6pm–11pm; Sun midday–4pm and 6pm–11pm

Since family-run Italian restaurant, Portobello Ristorante opened at the beginning of March, local friends have been saying we’ve got to try it. One said we had to order Franco’s pizza – ‘the chef’s fantasy’ – but our first lunchtime visit was thwarted by not having booked. We hastily made a Friday lunchtime reservation (unfortunately you can’t book an outdoor table). There was a queue on our second arrival and the staff were looking a little stressed. One of the chef-owners, Franco, smiled and showed us to our table. While the intimate, canopied, outdoor dining area whispers continental holidays, the warm interior boasts exposed wood beams and brickwork, chunky country-style tables and chairs.

The menu is family-centric: there are ‘bambino’ dishes and you can order sharing pizzas by the metre. We spotted very generous portions of fresh, aromatic food passing us, so I wimped out of a starter, while the boyfriend ordered the classic, frittura di gamberi e calamari (£9.50). My chosen Pinot Grigio had sold out, so the cheaper glass of Soave was suggested, which was clean and fresh, while the boyfriend drank Peroni. We nibbled on a fresh white bloomer dipped in olive oil and balsamic before, sure enough, the huge starter arrived, which was ‘nicely cooked, crispy and fresh.’ In fact, the boyfriend predicted that the restaurant ‘would, no doubt, become an institution’.

Next, a pizza stand came out, before our joined pizzas (cooked in the obligatory wood-fired oven) arrived on a wooden chopping board. Franco’s pizza (£10.95) toppings featured nicely chosen combinations of aubergine, parmesan, ricotta, prosciutto, black truffle, porcini mushroom duxelle, cherry tomatoes and basil for a variety of pizzas-in-one. The chef’s fantasy had clearly changed since our friend’s beloved calzone-pizza. I had plumped for an ortolana (grilled aubergines, sweet peppers, capers, sundried and cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese; £8.95), but asked not to have the capers, although they still arrived. Both pizzas had thin, crispy bases (the boyfriend’s was slightly burnt at the edge) and a rich, garlicky tomato sauce.

For dessert, we greedily chose crème pâtissière-filled profiteroles covered in a rich chocolate sauce. We were feeling really full, but Franco, with typical Italian gusto, brought out a refreshing Limoncello and almond cake; an interesting-but-in-a-good-way chocolate and red wine cake as well as Limencello shots.

It wasn’t a ground-breaking meal, but it was relaxed and indulgent – I didn’t anticipate getting much work done during what was left of the afternoon.

Meal for two, with drinks, around £80.

Portobello Ristorante Pizzeria, 7 Ladbroke Road, London, W11; www.portobellolondon.co.uk; 020 7221 1373

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