than just a Pizzeria
Clifford Mould peers
into the burning fiery furnace!
The air conditioning must be very
effective at Spighetta, it was a
hot August evening and the huge wood
burning pizza oven was going at full
chat, but Lee Ann, the restaurant
manager looked as cool as a cucumber
as she greeted us warmly to her spacious
Blandford Street basement dining
Lee Ann is married to chef Franco Parisi, who since coming to London
has cooked at Red Pepper and Zafferano, whose award winning chef Giorgo Locatelli has
an interest in this new venture. Indeed, Giorgio has helped to design the menu
for Spighetta. It is admirably straightforward, with a choice of five antipasti
in large or smaller portions according to whether you want to eat them as a
main dish or starter. The same goes for the five pasta dishes. Prices are very
keen: starter portions in the range 3.75 - 4.00, main size portions 4.50 -
6.00. The wood fired pizzas are the same price as the main course pastas. Every
day there are a few chef's specials - when we visited you could have had a
fish dish, hake at 8.50, or a meat dish, pork at 9.00.
Eveything we tried was simple but perfectly done. That is to say, it looked
simple (though carefully presented), but as you ate it you realised that this
was very professional cooking that is best left to the experts. Although it's
often fun to get ideas when eating out that you'd like to try at home, it's
also annoying to pay a lot of money for a meal only to think to oneself "I
could've done that". At Spighetta you win twice over - you don't pay a lot
of money in the first place, and I bet you can't make a carpaccio of marinated
grilled vegetables like Franco can. The only other person I know who does it
almost as well is Giorgio Locatelli. (Of course I'm only pulling Giorgio's
leg in the hope that he'll ask me over to prove he's still numero uno).
These grilled vegetables, aubergines and zucchini, are not at all oily; they
look like a potpourri of dried petals, with two vibrant splashes of bright
red and yellow peppers, just like new paint applied to a canvas with a palette
knife. And the flavours are just as intense and sunny. Some beautifully textured
hand-crafted ravioli parcels were stuffed with a delicate filling made from
creamy potatoes and fresh mint, topped with a piquant sauce of red pepper.
The pizzas are all very straightforward - no silly toppings, just first rate
dough with good ripe tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and variations on salami,
olives, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. They are big but not in the least bit heavy.
We tried the meat dish of the day, which was very tender pork rolled around
a stuffing of aubergine caviar with olive, then sliced across to add art to
craft. The flavours jumped out at you, and the accompanying zucchini, deep
fried in the lightest tempura, rustled seductively before melting in the mouth.
Puddings all cost a modest 3.00, and would put many a more elaborate establishment
to shame. Neither do they sit around getting soggy on a trolley only to be
dunped unceremoniously onto the plate by a waiter. We had a lovely chocolate
tart on a crisp base, with a rich but light filling and some super pistaccio
ice cream. The Ravioli St Antonio was lightly fried to make it crisp,
stuffed with something involving marscapone then floated in a raspberry coulis.
We drank pleasant Italian wines by the glass. The Settisoli Bianco costs 1.50,
and we paid 1.70 for the Salice Salentino Riserva. Bottles go from 9.00 to
20.00, but most are in the range 10.00 to 13.00.
Spighetta has certainly started off very well, with first rate food at very
competitive prices. The service was friendly, if a little confused at times,
but under Lee Ann's watchful eye these teething troubles should soon be out
of the way.
Dine Online highly recommended: Good cooking and excellent value for money.
Spighetta, 43 Blandford Street, London W1H 3AE
Tel 020 7486 7340 Open: Monday to Saturday 12 - 2.30pm and 6.30 - 10.30
pm, closed Sundays.
Blandford Street is off Baker Street, it's five minutes walk from Baker Street
Station, though more like ten on the way back!