Fucina

This is my long over due review of Fucina which opened its doors during the second half of 2016. The restaurant is founded by Kurt Zdesar who has been behind places like Ping Pong, Chotta Matte and Black Roe.

When I visited Fucina last year, it aim to bring the concept of Italian dishes made with freshly produce. The menu was split over different section and spread over two pages. Since then the menu has changed being condense on to one page. Whether it’s for the better that is a question mark.

During my visit I tried Straciatella with Mazzara prawn and black truffle (£18). If there wasn’t the soft opening offer, then I would have not ordered the dish with that price. But you won’t have that choice since I no longer see it on the updated menu.

Fucina

Linguine al granchio (also known as crab linguine) was freshly made linguine served with Devonshire crab, chilli and garlic (£13.50).

The texture and the taste of the linguine reminded me of e-fu noodle (yi mein) which is used in Chinese cuisine and commonly made as a braised noodle dish.

Fucina

There was a selection of pizza on the menu and I tried one of the vegetarian option, Bufala pizza (£11). The pizza is topped with bufala mozzarella, sicilian pachino tomoto & basil.

Fucina

Fucina offers a range of grills such as steak and chicken. I tried the Maiale nero pork shoulder (£19.60) that they had on the menu at the time of my visit. For a gold price tag we got a few slices of pork that is served pink.

Fucina

The meal was completed with dessert. The Panna cotta with pistachio crumble, blueberry and optional grappa (£7.50) was surprising.

In what sense you might be asking. Well it was not the typical panna cotta I was expected. Neitherless, it was a good contemporary concept. Think of as a messy version of a panna cotta but in an artistic way.

Fucina

Another dessert that I tried was Stefano’s cheese cake served with rhubarb & strawberry preserve (£7.50). Although it looked like an American cheesecake it had a more creamy texture.

Fucina

Fucina is more of an upmarket Italian restaurant. On my visit it did have a bit of an unfriendly atmosphere. Not what you want to find especially when you want people to be returning or be recommending it to others.

I was happy to pay for the price tag after the 50% off during their soft launch period. But not the full price for some of the dishes which was on the small side.

There are many places that serve authentic Italian food in London, especially pizza for a more reasonable price.

(Menu and prices correct at the time of dining)

Fucina
26 Paddington Street
London
W1U 5QY
UK

Vicino Restaurant

Vicino is an Italian restaurant situated in Parsons Green. It is walking distinct from Parsons Green station on the district line. The walk is pleasant from the station, through the small park and passing the upmarket local stores.

The restaurant is casual with a rustic feel of Tuscany. In the warm weather the windows at the front of the restaurant are opened up which allows you to enjoy the greenery of Parsons Green.

Vicino’s menu has a range of choices which are not just pasta. There are a selection of fish and meat dishes. The menu will cater for different dietary requirements, including those who are gluten intolerance. Dishes are flagged on the menu to indicate if they are suitable for vegetarian and/or gluten-free.

For our starters we tried the Calamari e Zucchine Fritte (£7) which was a deep-fried squid & courgette strips served with tartare sauce. Both the squid and courgette strips were beautifully fried. The tartare sauce is light in taste which compliments the lemon.

Vicino Restaurant

Insalata di Granchio (£8) was a refreshing starter that is excellent during the Summer season. This was made up of fresh Cornish crab with cucumber, chilli and shallots served on a toasted bread. The different flavours from each ingredients worked well together. The crab was light in flavour and was brought alive from the flavours of the other ingredients on the plate.

Vicino Restaurant

One of Vicino house speciality is their Linguine con Aragosta Vine Bianco Aglio e Peperoncino (£29.50) which is a whole lobster with linguine, white wine sauce, garlic and chilli. The dish was cooked beautifully with al dente pasta and lobster cooked just right.

Vicino Restaurant

Tagliolini Speck (£11) was another beautiful pasta dish at Vicino. It was made up of mushrooms, speck ham and generous shaving of truffles. This dish is full of flavour and well seasoned.

Vicino Restaurant

For dessert, we choice Vicino’s homemade dessert and one of these had to be the tiramisu (£5.50). It’s a beautiful rustic dessert with flavours of coffee and amaretto liquor.

Vicino Restaurant

The crème caramel (£5.50) had a rich egg custard flavour with a light sweet taste from the sugar sauce. The pudding has a lovely texture and is a nice light dessert to finish off a meal.

Vicino Restaurant

Although, Vicino is a local restaurant the presentation is not forgotten. Every dish is nicely presented. The portion size is decent and good value.

(Menu and prices correct at the time of dining)

Sponsored by JPR Media Group

Vicino Restaurant
189 New King’s Road,
London,
SW6 4SW,
UK

http://www.vicinorestaurant.com

Mantovani 1946

Mantovani 1946 is a recently open gelato shop located on Tottenham Court Road. It is a two floors shop with seats available if you want to eat-in.

Mantovani 1946

There is a selection of gelato flavours to choose and the few I sampled were full of flavour. You also have the options in having it served as a cone or cup. In a cup you get to choose the size as well.

I shared a large cup with gelato flavour pistachio and hazelnut. The gelato was creamy and smooth. However, I preferred the flavour of hazelnut over pistachio as in my view other places in London does better flavour pistachio.

Mantovani 1946

However, you probably wouldn’t come here to try the basic flavours. Instead you will want to at least sample Mantovani signature gelato flavour, The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which was the  winner at the 2015 Gelato Festival in Italy. The flavour is made up of pistachio, orange zest, hazelnut and dark chocolate.

The signature flavour does not only comes in the form of gelato but also as a cake. I tried the Kingdom of two Sicilies cake (“Regno delle due Sicilie” cake) which is a mousse cake with a sponge base.

Mantovani 1946

The surprise about the cake is when we got to the centre we found a flow of dark chocolate sauce. The cake is fairly sweet and goes well with a cup of coffee or tea to blanace the sweetness out.

Mantovani 1946

(Not sponsored. Menu correct at the time of dining)

Mantovani 1946
187 Tottenham Court Raod,
London,
W1T 7PQ,
UK

http://www.mantovaniicecreamfranchise.com

Bocca Di Lupo

Bocca Di Lupo is an Italian restaurant located in London Soho. It has been a popular venue since it first opened many years ago. Each time I go pass, it is always buzzing with diners. In the past, I have tried to get a table but never suceed until recently when looking for a place to have dinner with friends. I thought I would give them a call and unexpectecly to be told that there was availiabity.

Bocca di Lupo

The menu has a range of dishes to select that you spoilt for choice. The dishes at Bocca Di Lupo is to cover different regions in Italy.

The first dish we tried on the evening was the Seabream carpaccio with orange & rosemary. To get the full flavour of this dish you will need to sqeeze some orange juice, otherwise I thought it lacked flavour.

Bocca di Lupo

The grilled mussels with chilli oils was simple dish. It was nice but it would not be a stand out dish for me at Bocca Di Lupo.

Bocca di Lupo

It was my first time trying a Bagna fredda (chilled anchovy & garlic cream with fennel, potatoes, bread and mammole artichoke) and thought it was interesting. When it arrived at the table I thought it was a soup but its more of a dipping for the vegetables and bread. The dipping was full of flavour which made it suited to go with the bread and vegetable which was on the bland side.

Bocca di Lupo

We also tried one of the risotto on the menu which has taken my fancy over pasta these days. One reason is because it is wheat free which you will not find from traditional pasta. I am told that a good pasta and risotto is when the texture is al dente. However, not being an Italian and clearly not since I prefer my risotto on the softer side.

Bocca Di Lupo’s risotto al dente was a bit too on the hard side with a more crunchy texture compared to risotto I have had in London.

Bocca di Lupo

Being an Italian restaurant I expect pasta to be good and Bocca Di Lupo did not disappoint with both pasta dishes we ordered. As with many dishes on the menu, the pasta comes in two sizes – small or large.

Tortellini stuffed with pork & prosciutto, with peas, asparagus and cream

Bocca di Lupo

Tagliatelle with ragu bolognese

Bocca di Lupo

We also tried a few of Bocca Di Lupo’s roast/grilled dishes on the menu. My favourite of the evening has to be the whole slow grilled leg of milk fed lamb with garlic, wine and honey. This dish cost £55 which is for two person to share. The meat was tender with a
sweet honey taste.

Bocca di Lupo

The Roast suckling pig with chestnuts, white wine & bay leaves for £26 would be my second favourite dish of the evening. Crispy skin with succelant meat under it.

Bocca di Lupo

We also tried the Agnell cacio e uiva (lamb braised with white wine sauce thickened with egg yolks and pecorino). Looking at the dish you might think it not that pretty but after all it is a stew like dish.

Bocca di Lupo

The Caponata (aubergines, celery and tomato in agrodolce) come in the option to be served cold or warm. I prefer it warm. Love that the vegetable cooked until it is soft and it compliment the meat dishes.

Bocca di Lupo

We managed to finish our meal with dessert, but unfortunately some of the dessert were already sold out although it was not even 9 o’clock.

The Bonet (chocolate, coffee, amaretti, caramel & rum pudding) was very sweet and is for those with a very sweet tooth. For me one or two spoonfuls is enough to satisfy my sweet buds.

Bocca di Lupo

The Baba with baked rhubarb and cream I thought was like bread soaked in water. The portion size of this can be share. Compared to the bonet this was not sweet and more on refresh side. But it was my least favourite dessert of the evening as soggy bread really does not take my fancy.

Bocca di Lupo

I did enjoyed the food at Bocca Di Lupo but I was disappointed by the service. Our waitress obviously was trying to get us to finish so they could turn the table.

Me and few of us arrived 20 minutes early than our booking and we were shown to our table. However, even before our booking time we were already push to order and asked when the rest of our guests were arriving.

I was already aware that we only had the table for 2 hours and 15 minutes. So when we were offered the dessert menu and needed to give the table back on time, we tried many time to politely get attention of a staff to take our order. Finally when our waitress wanted to take our dessert, she comes over and decided to take the menus off us, giving us the impression that we had no time for dessert.

I know they are busy and want to turn as many tables throughout the night. But I think our waitress could had done it in a much more polite way. Other restaurant has been able to do it in a much better way. I wouldn’t recommend this place if you don’t want to feel push with your dining.

Bocca di Lupo

(Not sponsored. Menu and prices correct at the time of dining)

Bocca Di Lupo
12 Archer Street,
London,
W1D 7BB,
UK

http://boccadilupo.com

Franco Manca (Tottenham Court Road)

I have always wondered what make Franco Manca popular enough, that people will be willing to queue for a pizza. I finally got that opportunity to find out what it is at their Tottenham Court Road branch.

I have gone pass this branch many time and majority of the time it seem to have a queue. Even the evening I went there was a short queue. For a table of 2 people, we did not have to wait too long, roughly 15 minutes.

Franco Manca

The menu is simple with only six different pizza to choose and they all have the option to add extra toppings for additional cost. The most basic and cheapest pizza on their menu is the tomato, garlic and oregano which cost £4.50. The most expensive pizza would be just under £7.

I ordered pizza number five (£6.70) which was made up of tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olive, anchovies and mozzarella. I found this really salted as it was like eating a lump of salt and my guess was due to the anchovies.

Franco Manca

The pizza at Franco Manca is a soft base pizza and similar to the size you will find at Pizza Express. I prefer the soft base pizza over the crispy base, but there will be some of you out there who will like your cripsy pizza base.

The texture of the pizza was nice but I found there was not enough topping on the pizza and felt like some time I was just eating a plain pizza bread which is bland to me.

Franco Manca

Although, I did not fall in love with the pizza at Franco Manca, I can see why there is a queue. For the price and the quality for a pizza compare to some of the chains it is good value, especially if you go for the most basic pizza on the menu. So it is no surprise why there is a queue and especially at this branch since it is near to University of London where it would be an attraction to students.

(Not sponsored. Menu and prices are correct at the time of dining)

Franco Manca (Tottenham Court Road)
98 Tottenham Court Road,
London,
W1T 4TR,
UK

http://www.francomanca.co.uk

Pizza East (Kentish Town)

Pizza East first restaurant was in Shoreditch before opening another two branches in London and has now expanded worldwide. We visited the branch in Kentish town, where you will find Pizza East upstairs and The Chicken Shop downstairs. Both restaurants are founded by the same people.

We started off with some antipasti to share among the table: Baby octopus, tomato, Courgette fritti and the Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with parmesan. I found the meatball slightly dry and it was not hot enough.

Pizza East

The selection of Pizza is not large and they have other main dishes for those who can’t have or don’t want pizza. But each pizza topping combination looked interesting that I wanted to try them all. Therefore, a group of us on the table ordered different pizza to share.

Portobello mushroom, spinach & egg
Pizza East

Veal meatballs, prosciutto, cream, sage
Pizza East

Speck, asparagus, mozzarella, Parmesan
Pizza East

Salami, tomato, mozzarella
Pizza East

Sharing makes a lovely pizza with different toppings. May be places should start giving that option to satisfy my greedy taste buds!
Pizza East

Pizza East (Kentish Town)
79 Highgate Road
London,
NW5 1TL,
UK

http://www.pizzaeast.com

Pizza Pilgrims

As I have been “trying” to reduce gluten in take, it means I get craving for pizza and sandwiches. There are days when you do give in or decide its a treat day. That is exactly what it was on a Friday evening when I decided to have a pizza at Pizza Pilgrims.

Pizza Pilgrims

We waited about 15-20 minutes before being seated downstairs, where majority of the seatings are located. Upstairs only have the long bar table against the window. But downstairs actually have tables like a restaurant.

Pizza Pilgrims

I ordered the Aubergine Parmagiana (£9) which is suitable for veggi fans. I always seem to have an eye for aubergine.

Pizza Pilgrims

The Guest pizza that evening was The Pepper Pig (£11) which consisted of slow roast ham, sweet and spicy peppers.

Pizza Pilgrims

There is a selection of side dishes that you have to go with the pizza. We choice the marinated artichoke heart, prosciutto and parmesan and the Buffalo mozzarella with roasted peppers.

Pizza Pilgrims

Pizza Pilgrims

If you still have room, Pizza Pilgrim have a selection of dessert including sorbet, ice cream and affogato. We ordered the Nutella and salted ricotta pizza ring (£5.50) which the restaurant kindly added a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That satisfy my food buddy’s taste buds with the pizza ring and my taste buds with the ice cream.

Pizza Pilgrims

The warm pizza ring filled with melted Nutella tasted good with the cold ice cream. An excellent optional combination.

Pizza Pilgrims

The pizza at Pizza Pilgrims serve a soft pizza base. But it is probably not for those that like their pizza base crispy. However, I enjoyed the texture since soft and soggy is how I like my food!

Pizza Pilgrims
11 Dean Street,
Soho, W1D 3RP,
London

http://pizzapilgrims.co.uk