After a busy morning of sightseeing in London for me, and the last morning of a 3-day conference for David, we decided to get a few Fitbit steps on the clock and walk back from Baker Street towards our apartment in Canary Wharf. As it was around 1.45pm our growling tummies told us that we should stop and eat, and so we began to look for a restaurant. This is not a difficult task in central London, as it would seem that every other shop offers a variety of fare from all over the world. However, it was a sunny day, and this seemed to bring out the crowds, as many of the restaurants we passed were full to over flowing. It’s interesting to note how lunchtime is that much later in London than in the US.
After a few failed attempts to find an open table we stumbled across the restaurant Prezzo, a familiar name we thought. Actually there are over 200 Prezzo restaurants dotted around the UK, so I’m pretty sure we have probably dined at one in the past. We were not particularly looking for a chain restaurant to try, but this location didn’t scream mass-market dull. Greeted warmly when we stepped inside, we were soon seated and reviewing the large menu of Italian inspired offerings.
The inside of this restaurant felt a little old fashioned with dark tables, dark wood paneled walls, and faux beams on the ceiling. The restaurant did not have the regular Italian vibe, more like old English, especially with the old master style paintings hanging on the walls. Tables were spaced out quite nicely though as that can be an issue in some London restaurants were they are obviously trying to squeeze in as many tables as possible. Looking at the website for Prezzo, it would seem that there is not one corporate style, which is probably why when we entered it didn’t automatically make you think mass market. Some of the other Prezzo locations in London do appear to be much lighter and modern so perhaps they are decorated more in keeping with their location. Still not like our favorite Italian in Chicago, Eaterly, but a decent London alternative.
A number of dishes on the menu looked quite tempting but we particularly liked the fact that two of the sections, the pizza and pasta, had the option of making the dish ‘light’ and thus reducing the calories. For the pizza dishes, the light version meant that instead of the ‘classic’ offering of a stone baked dough base, the ‘light’ version consisted of a smaller flatbread pizza base served with a mixed salad with a low calorie Italian dressing. If you were feeling a little more indulgent you could also select the ‘VIP’ version, which was a bigger, crispier pizza base, with even more toppings. The ‘classic’ sized pizzas on the menu were also offered gluten free.
I decided to try the Proscuitto E Funchi pizza; with prosciutto ham, mushrooms, olives, rosemary, mozzarella, and tomato at GBP 10.65 (USD 17). The pizza base was beautifully light and crispy, toppings were a little sparce (although this was the reduced calorie version) but the portion size was still quite generous for one person despite being ‘light’. David selected the Penne Arrabbiata pasta with crushed chilies and parsley in a tomato and garlic sauce which definitely had a bit of an after kick, probably thanks to the chilies, and was again a very hearty potion. The light size cost GBP 8.75 (USD 14) and buffalo mozzarella and/or seasoned chicken could be added for an additional GBP 1.20 each (USD 1.90). Serving our lunchtime selections on large wooden platters certainly made the colors of the fresh food pop.
As it was so warm outside, and we were a little dehydrated from our long walk, we decided to forgo any of the tempting wines on offer, and instead had a lovely chilled bottle of Pellegrino (sparkling water). The waiter actually brought us iced glasses to serve our water; we thought was a nice touch.
Prezzo is certainly not high dining, brought home by the paper napkins on the table. But the food is good basic Italian fare, tasty, and for London, reasonably priced. The waiters were very friendly and fairly attentive, although we did need to wait a little while before we could order our food. Once the food arrived we were left to eat in peace and, unlike my pet peeve in the US, our plates were not cleared from our tables until we had both finished our meal. There was no feeling of being rushed to turn our table, or of being upsold with offers of wine or desserts.
Location: 17 Hertford Street, London W1. Find your nearest via website
Hours: Monday through Saturday 12 noon to 11pm, Sunday 12 noon to 10.30pm
Price guide: Meal for two GBP 15-30 (USD 25-50)
Reservations: Phone restaurant or go online to Open Table