September 29, 2010

It’s been a while I had not been to an Italian place. Lately two of my closest friends came back to London and so we got back to our old way of life: spending all our time together, usually in restaurants, especially when it’s raining!

Last weekend we went to Amalfi as one of us went there about 6-7 months ago before leaving the Big Smoke and she remembered their delicious gnocchi.

To be honest I wouldn’t have been to this restaurant without her as it sounds to me a bit “basic and fake” from outside – hard to describe my feeling, but I’d say it seemed to be this kind of place made for tourists. I was wrong! A bit!

In the heart of Soho, with a direct view on the busy Old Compton street, this little restaurant offers a good menu of Italian specialities. Obviously we couldn’t test everything, but I can easily tell you what to have (or not).
The first time we went, we’ve been welcomed by a nice young waiter in a musical atmosphere – actually Italian pop music, conte partiroooooo (a thought of Andrea Bocelli). He was very nice and helpful. For instance he brought a proper scoop when one of my friends asked to test the vanilla ice-cream, while we were expecting just a simple sample in a spoon…

What’s on order?
Well of course there was one portion of gnocchi. Note they’re not on the menu anymore, but my friend asked and so they cooked one serving. She got a good plate with tomato sauce on top – well cooked!
The other friend had lasagna. That’s where the shoe pinched. Bad taste, small portion, disappointing. Actually she was that disappointed because she literally likes lasagna and was expecting something similar to the ones from Italian Kitchen. Actually I’d like to make a point about that: I described them as really good and well-served. Wrong! We went back there last weekend as well, to compare haha, and… what a disillusion! We were so enthusiastic about going back to our usual canteen and eating lasagna we enjoyed so much before summer. Unfortunately it’s not the same chef anymore and we could taste that, in a wrong way 😦

Anyway let’s go back to what I was talking about: Amalfi. Avoid lasagna.
As for me, I tried two antipasti: caprese (tomato/mozzarella salad) and bruschetta. The former was incredibly not tasty. Wrong choice. But the latter one was ok, not the best I ever had, but it was ok.

As gnocchi were in the air, we came back there the day after 😀 and this time, the three of us had gnocchi – really good!
Just one thing: as I said, note it’s not on the menu – and if you want a portion, ask for a main dish size, not appetizer.
Another friend had fish but… weird fish. He counted on a good piece of fish and he got a kind of fishcake 😀 his face was quite funny haha but it was apparently pretty good.
Oh there’s something you need to take to supplement your meal: a basket of bread. You can choose between different types, it’s usually pizza bread and can be with cheese on top, or pesto or else. Go for it and gressini, always good for an Italian meal!

The important part of a luncheon or dinner for me is the dessert (sweets lover… it will lost me one day…). One of us went for a classical ice-cream vanilla/chocolate and was happy of her choice. She was afraid to get a yellow vanilla that you usually buy in supermarkets. Instead of that she got a generous cup of delicious ice-cream. I’ve got to say the chocolate flavour was really good.
They tested the tiramisu as well. This is usually my favorite dessert, but I was not hungry anymore to have even a spoon. From my point of you, it looked a bit dry, and apparently it did taste so. From what they said, it wasn’t good at all! No miss then 🙂

Edit 08.10.10: spaghettis are good as well though definitely not enough! They don’t have gnocchi anymore…

Prices are told to be reasonable, but I thought it was a bit too much compared to some other places like Côte where we had a better meal for almost the same bill. About £6 for starters and desserts, £10-12 for main courses.

> Tips: This place is probably good to have a coffee outside on their terrace area.

> Verdict: at the end of the day, I’d say this place is a basic Italian restaurant. Nothing very special. Some dishes are to be strongly avoided. The atmosphere is simple and unpretentious. We enjoyed the fact to meet a very nice and helpful staff, especially a senior waiter who treated us really kindly. I think it could be a good venue before/after theater.

PS: sorry for the quality of the pictures took with my phone. I didn’t have my camera, but I definitely need to take it back to give you better snapshots!

Infos: Amalfi – 29-31 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 5JS – 020 7437 7284 – Leicester Square station

Amalfi on Urbanspoon

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