Pizza Express Wimbledon Broadway
104 The Broadway
London SW19 1RH
Great Peroni beer
We tried to walk home from Richmond Park but got lost after Wimbledon Common so we decided to stop at Pizza Express for a quick diner. We were quite tired with all the camera gear we had to carry. As starters we had a formaggio bread and a garlic bread with mozzarella, they were followed by the pizza Romana Al Tirolo and the pizza Romana La Reine. We also had two glasses of tap water (free) and a bottle of Peroni beer which was served nicely cold.
Garlic bread with mozzarella
The starters were good, not heavy at all as we might have expected. They are like mini pizzas but we were hungry so it wasn’t a problem eating pizzas again but as a main course.
The two pizzas with the Romana bases
Pizza Romana la Reine
Pizza Romana Al Tirolo
Garlic oil and spicy oil
We had the Romana bases for our two pizzas, which means their bases were stretched thinner for a crispier pizza. The pizza Al Tirolo was quite nice with creamy cheese, mushrooms, parsley and some ham. The base was nice and crispy despite the garlic oil on it. The pizza La Reine (prosciutto cotto ham, olives and mushrooms) was OK, but a bit let down by the ham, which was rather tasteless despite being the main topping.
Cost and conclusion: for about £30 service charge not included it was a good value for money. We do appreciate the fact they didn’t include the “optional” 12.5% service charge in the bill and left it to our discretion. Pizza Express is a decent pizzeria chain and so far we have not had bad experiences with them. Actually they are a lot better than some pizzerias we tried!
Zizzi Italian Restaurant
73-75 The Strand
London WC2R 0DE
Nice cold Peroni beer
We go quite regularly to the Zizzi on the Strand, since it is close to the office but it has been over two months since the last review. I feel I had to post a new review since I saw a comment by someone complaining about the service for non-native English speakers, the food and the price (!). I too am a non-native English speaker but have not had a single problem at this restaurant. By the way, not many waiters at this Zizzi are native English speakers… They seem mostly to be from Poland or Italy according to their accent. As for the “rubbish food”, well it all depends on people’s taste but personally I find Zizzi quite decent and I have been in many restaurants. Still, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But what I find funny is when the whinger says “it could be, and should be much better taking into consideration the price” I almost choked on my can of coke laughing. First, a meal costs around £8-12 at Zizzi and this one is located in the Strand, which is not exactly the cheapest area in London. You pay the same price at any Zizzi so this one at least is offering a better value for money compared to the ones located in less desirable places. Second, even in absolute Zizzi is quite cheap: you eat well, the surrounding is not bad and air conditioning is nice when it is hot. Cheaper, is the McDonalds next door. Third, Zizzi offers discounts all the time! For example, the current offer allows you to buy any main meal and get another one for only £1! It is valid Sunday to Thursday until Sunday 11th October 2009. Just go to http://zizzi.co.uk to see the latest offers.
Pizzas cotto e funghi
Well, back to the review now. We ordered 2 pizzas cotto e funghi (£8.50 + £1 for the second pizza with their current deal), a bottle of San Pellegrino 500ml (£2.15) and a bottle of Peroni beer (£3.20). We chose that kind of pizza since we quite liked it last time we reviewed the place. It was good this time too, with a nice thin crispy base. The toppings were good, and we especially like the mushrooms and the creamy mascarpone
Cost and conclusion: It was less than £15 for two people. All tips and gratuities are discretionary at Zizzi and they really are since they are not automatically added to the bill. Great pizzas, very reasonable prices, excellent location for us but also for all the tourists visiting Covent Garden or Trafalgar Square where tourist traps are the norm.
Italian restaurant Bucci
195 Balham High Road
London SW12 9BE
We had already tried Bucci, but it had been at lunchtime when pizzas are not available unfortunately. We enjoyed their set menus and finding this Italian restaurant in Balham was a quite nice discovery. Are the pizzas great as well?
Bucci pizza and calzone
There is a large choice of pizzas at Bucci, 19 to be precise! We decided on the Bucci pizza (tomato, mozzarella, parma ham, parmesan and rocket – £8.50) to try their specialty, and the Calzone tradizionale (tomato, mozzarella, ham and mushroom – £7.90) as we are into these folded pizzas. There are three different calzones, the other two being the Farcito (tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese and spinach – £7.90) and the Cantadino (tomato, mozzarella, roasted courgette, aubergine and peppers – £7.90), both vegetarian pizzas.
Other pizzas we were interested by were the Tonno (tomato, mozzarella, tuna, olives and cappers – £7.90), the Aldo pizza (tomato, mozzarella, ham, mascarpone cheese and radicchio -£8.10), the Caprinba (cherry tomato, mozzarella, asparagus, goat cheese and rocket – £8.50) and the Parmigiana (tomato, mozzarella, aubergines, peppers and olives – £8.10).
The calzone was quite a disappointment. It was not at all crispy, lacked flavour, and arrived leaking some fluid (presumably from the mushrooms). The filling was minimal, with much of the space inside taken up by hot air leaving you feeling as though you’ve only been half fed. It’s not a pizza I’ll try again, and doesn’t come close to Limoncello a short distance away down near Tooting Broadway.
The Bucci pizza by contrast, but also in absolute, was huge. Normally I can finish a pizza but here I had to leave some of it. Well, not that much as I managed to eat maybe 85% of it! While I found it good, it lacked something to make it memorable, probably because of the taste of the base or the lack of it too. At Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond with the pizza Buffalo which is similar the base is wonderfully crispy and the tomato sauce (added after the base has been cooked) feels incredibly fresh with little bits of tomato and herbs.
Cost and conclusion: it was £21.60 without service charge and it is not automatically added to the bill. A big grazie to Bucci for respecting their customers!
Compared to Double Espresso a few doors down, I think Double Espresso pizzas have a better base but the décor is a lot nicer at Bucci. Both have a friendly service. That said, if you are into pizzas, two tube stops away, not far from Tooting Broadway you have Limoncello which is probably the best pizzeria in the Balham and Tooting areas. If it is about Italian food other than pizza, Bucci is a decent choice with excellent and well priced meals. Click here for our previous review of Bucci. Other restaurants reviewed in the area are Lamberts, the Cattle Grid, and a little further Hope & Spice and Harrison’s.
Pizza Express Wandsworth Common
198 Trinity Road
London SW17 7HR
Nice cold Peroni beer and sparkling water
Located next to Wandsworth Common and next to the excellent French restaurant Bellevue Rendez-vous this Pizza Express is our closest pizzeria. It is nicely designed with plenty of space between tables and two open areas in front and in the rear.
We ordered two “Classic Pizza” but on a Romana base for an additional £1.20. As explained by Pizza Express “the differences between a Romana and a Classic are size, thickness and taste. The Romana and Classic pizza are made from the same dough but the Romana is stretched further, to 14 inches and cooked on a wire mesh. This gives the Romana an extraordinarily thin, crispy base and consequently, stronger flavours than the Classic.” Not sure about the stronger flavours but I certainly prefer thin base than the deep pan bread-like base…
The pizzas chosen were the Giardiniera (Asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, fresh red peppers, santos tomatoes, olives and garlic – on a tomato and pesto sauce – £8.15 + £1.20) and the Fiorentina (Spinach, grana padano and a free range egg with garlic and olives – £7.55 + £1.20). As drink we had a Peroni Gran Riserva (£3.75) and a 500ml San Pellegrino mineral water (£2.20).
The two pizzas
The not so spicy chilli oil
Pizza Giardiniera on a Romana base
The pizza Giardiniera was good. I am not exactly a vegetarian but a change is nice from time to time. The base was fine and the vegetables were decent. The taste of garlic was quite present which was nice. The only downside was some salty patches coming from the pesto sauce, but that was still a minor complaint.
The pizza Fiorentina was excellent (but still not matching the Fiorentina at Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond – let’s not dream!) with a perfectly cooked egg that was still lightly runny when broken. It had a nice mix of toppings, including spinach that actually still had some flavour. That makes an enormous difference for this sort of pizza.
Cost and conclusion: it was £24 in all. The pizzas were good and the surrounding is pleasant. As for the service this time, whilst they were friendly, they were incredibly slow despite not being at all busy (there were only a handful of customers that evening). It is not acceptable to have to wait 40 minutes for the bill to arrive, and then to wait even longer for someone to return so we could pay it! We could not wait anymore, so left our table and paid at the desk on the way out to speed things up. Still, if you are in the area and are looking for a pizza, this is a very decent place. Thirty metres away you have Bellevue Rendez-vous which is one of our favourite French restaurants.
Limoncello Trattoria Pizzeria Wine Bar
169-171 Mitcham Road, Tooting
London SW17 9PG
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.
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.
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.
Mint ice cream
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!