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Italian restaurant Bucci 195 Balham High Road, London SW12 9BE
Jul 23rd, 2009 by Olivier

Italian restaurant Bucci
195 Balham High Road
London SW12 9BE

Bucci

Bucci

Bucci

Retro design

Retro design

The entrance

The entrance

We went to Bucci with the intention of eating pizza. However, it turned out that they only fire up the wood fire for pizza in the evenings – we went at lunch time, so were out of luck (or so it seemed).

With pizza unavailable, we took instead the set menu, which was priced at £9.95 for two courses or £13.50 for three. For this modest sum, we could choose for the starters between soup of the day (in this case, minestrone), a Norwegian prawn coktail, timbale of aubergines and mozarella in a tomato sauce with drops of pesto, and calamari rings sautéed in chilli garlic and olive oil and garnished with continental parsley. For main courses, there was a choice between baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce, risotto with mixed finely chopped vegetables finished with a drop of pesto sauce, pan fried piccata of chicken in white wine and lemon sauce, or grilled skewers of prawns on a bed of aromatized bread crumbs finished with a delicate parsley sauce. For dessert, the choice was between caffé cream, chocolate trilogy cake and fresh fruit salad.

We chose the calamari and the aubergines as starters, the cannelloni and chicken as mains, and caffé cream and chocolate trilogy cake as dessert.

The two starters

The two starters

The timbale of aubergines

The timbale of aubergines

The timbale of aubergines and mozarella in a tomato sauce with drops of pesto was excellent. It arrived piping hot (seriously very hot) and with it we were offered pepper and parmesan cheese. We passed on the pepper, but accepted the parmesan – with which the waitress was not stingy! Really a very enjoyable dish, which I’d certainly take again.

Calamari rings

Calamari rings

The calamari rings were quite good with a delicate olive oil taste and a hint of chilli and garlic. It was certainly not a spicy (hot) dish but a well balanced meal. The calamari were fortunately not chewy.

The two main courses

The two main courses

The pan fried piccata of chicken

The pan fried piccata of chicken

The pan fried piccata of chicken in white wine and lemon sauce was also extremely good. It was 4 mini chicken breasts on a bed of salad. I didn’t notice any sauce, but the chicken had clearly been pan fried in something as it had an excellent flavour to the lightly singed outside. It was nicely crispy on the outside, tender inside, and not a bit dry.

Baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce

Baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce

The baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce was overall pretty good, served hot with a nice creamy tomato and béchamel sauce. The meat was a little bland, it could have been seasoned more.

The desserts

The desserts

Chocolate trilogy cake

Chocolate trilogy cake

The chocolate trilogy cake was not bad. I don’t think this was commercially supplied (as is often the case with Italian restaurants). The top layer was marscapone, beneath which was layered chocolate and vanilla cake. All served with a chocolate sauce and a dusting of cocoa. It was pleasantly moist, and not over sweet.

Caffé cream

Caffé cream

The caffé cream was better though.  It was a dense cream flavoured with coffee. This is the sort of dessert that has the potential to be a bit heavy, but in this case it was mixed with some sort of suet, which just set it off nicely. A good end to a very good meal.

Espresso coffee

Espresso coffee

We finished with a couple of espressos, which were very good. Nice and thick and strong, not too bitter and not at all burnt.

Cost and conclusion: it was about £35 service charge not included and not automatically added to the bill. We like restaurants like Bucci who respect customers right to decide on any tip. Good and well priced food, and a very friendly service. We will be back!

Bucci on Urbanspoon

Italian restaurant Limoncello 169-171 Mitcham Road, Tooting London SW17
Jul 20th, 2009 by Olivier

Limoncello Trattoria Pizzeria Wine Bar
169-171 Mitcham Road, Tooting
London SW17 9PG

Limoncello

Limoncello

Limoncello

Inside Limoncello

Inside Limoncello

We have not been to Limoncello for over 3 months despite their excellent pizzas! We are repairing this mistake today. Limoncello is located 5 minutes walk from Tooting Broadway tube station. The restaurant is quite spacious with a bar on one side and the restaurant on the other side. There is a good distance between tables too unlike the photo above might suggest: the tables there were put together for a party.

As starters we ordered the bresaola avocado (thinly sliced cured beef with avocado – £5.90) and a fried breaded camenbert (£5.90) which was listed on their menu of the day blackboard. For main courses we chose the pizza fiorentina made of tomato, mozzarella, spinach, onions and egg (£7.50) and a pizza calzone (like last time since it was quite good) made of tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham and salami (£7.90). The wine was a bottle of red wine (Cabernet – £13.90) that was already on the table as they were suggesting it. It was well balanced and easy to drink.

Bresaola avocado

Bresaola avocado

Fried breaded camembert

Fried breaded camembert

The fried breaded camembert was surprising. It was two huge slices of camembert with an apple compote. The photo does not really show their size. It could have been a main course itself. It was quite good and the compote was a good balance.

The bresaola avocado was excellent.  The cured beef was perfect with a squeeze of lemon and some avocado.  Usually I find acovado a bit – well, bleh. It is rather bland and greasy for my taste.  With the cured beef, lemon and a touch of rocket, however, I finally see the point of avocado. Really an excellent starter that I wouldn’t hesitate to repeat.

The two pizzas

The two pizzas

Pizza Fiorentina

Pizza Fiorentina

Pizza calzone

Pizza calzone

Anatomy of a calzone

Anatomy of a calzone

The pizzas were quite good and giant. The pizza fiorentina had a nice crispy base that stayed lightly crispy without becoming too hard as it happens sometimes with pizzas. The toppings with spinach and onions were nice. It was just unfortunate the egg broke while being cooked. Still, a pretty decent pizza. The calzone was, as the last time, very good indeed. It had just the right mix and quantity of ingredients, and stayed nice and crispy. Definitely recommended. 

Apple tart

Apple tart

Mint ice cream

Mint ice cream

Limoncello

Limoncello

The desserts were average. Not bad but they looked like desserts you can get at the supermarket and they were too sweet. The dessert menu already makes you think that because it is one of these standard plastified menu with photos. We also had two limoncello (£6.40) and they were served icy as they should. We even got a free refill from the owner, which was nice of him. We ended the dinner with two good cups of coffee.

Cost and conclusion: it was £57 service charge not included and not automatically added to the bill. We like when it is left at the discretion of the client and in this case as the service was good they got a tip of course. With the exception of the desserts, the meals from the starters to the pizzas were good. It was the second time we went there in 3 months so we can say they appear quite reliable. It has also a nice atmosphere. Highly recommended if you are in the area!

Limoncello on Urbanspoon

Buona Sera restaurant, Northcote Road, Clapham Junction, London
Apr 11th, 2009 by Olivier

Buona Sera (Italian restaurant)
22 Northcote Road,Clapham Junction, London, SW11 1NX

Buona Sera

Reviewed on Saturday 11 April

 

Buona Sera

Buona Sera

Buona Sera is located between Wandsworth common and Clapham Junction. The Northcote Road is full of restaurants we have to try! We have already been here once and were happy with the pizzas. This time we decided to try the full 3 courses. As starters we ordered Costino Piccante (pork spare ribs in spicy barbeque sauce – £6.80) and Funghi Ricotta (spinach and ricotta stuffed mushrooms, baked in tomato – £6.80). The Funghi Ricotta was good, tasty and plenty of ricotta cheese. The pork spare ribs were good and pretty hot. The sauce was spicy but way too sweet. The sauce looked familiar, like if it was coming from some already made cans.

Main Courses:  we had a Caciucco (fish and seafood, tomato, garlic and chilli casserole – £13.80) and an Anatra al Balsimico (pan fried duck breast with honey and balsimic vinegar, served with sauteed swedes – £12.80). The Caciucco was very average, nothing to remember about it. The duck breast was too strong for me, like it happens with some venison. I do like eating magrets etc so when I write strong, I really meant it! The sauce was too sweet but considering how strong the meat was, it was ok. I think it would have been better to have pan fried potatoes than swedes. We had a bottle of Chianti which was fine.

Dessert: we ordered a chocolate soufflé with vanilla icecream (£3.90) and a cheesecake with vanilla icecream with red fruit jam (£3.90). The chocolate soufflé was good, with a strong enough chocolate and the ice cream was a nice addition. The cheesecake was at least a real baked cheesecake and not the overprocessed sugar-laden muck but not great either.

 

Spicy BBQ ribs

Costino Piccante

Tomato

Funghi Ricotta

Duck with parsnips

Anatra al Balsimico

Seafood

Caciucco

Cake

Cheesecake

Ice cream

Chocolate soufflé

Cost and conclusion: for £70 (tips included) we expected better. It is better to stick to their pizzas. It is a pity because the restaurant design is quite nice and the staff are all right. Another downside is the restaurant can get pretty busy so noisy. You almost have to yell for just discussing.

Buona Sera on Urbanspoon


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