La Porchetta

La Porchetta | London Pizzeria

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Review analysis
staff   food   menu   drinks   value  

When Ms Hart suggested that this review must concern a determinedly old-fashioned Italian restaurant, she was acting, at least in part, on what I call the Pepper-Pot Principle.

classification system, this subgenre of Italian (loads of schmoozing, powdered Parmesan, walls festooned by snaps of the beaming owner with visiting celebrities) is known as a Lionel.

Like Ms Hart, my strong preference is for the Lionel’s cosseting warmth over the self-conscious cool of the more contemporary Italian known as the Tony – clinical, minimalist establishments, like the defunct Granita, where the sombre staff wear charcoal grey suits, the Parmesan is shaved, the pepper-pots are studiedly unphallic, and the menu is much more likely to feature pan-fried dodo gizzard with polenta in a unicorn sauce than spaghetti bolognese.

But the nicotine-yellow paintwork behind the pizza area, manned by a young guy wearing a baseball cap back to front, and possibly dreaming of wolf-whistling Sicilian girls from the seat of his Vespa (no crude national stereotyping here) while he theatrically stretched the dough, looks untouched since the mid-Sixties heyday of the cheap ’n’ cheerful Italian caff.

But we lingered merrily over decent coffee from the bar in the centre of this long, thin, well-lit and shabbily engaging room, chatting about the Soho of old before it became so largely depornified, when honest, artless, unpretentious joints like this one abounded, and when you could stuff your face for 10 bob and have change over for a taxi home.

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