Pizzeria Ristorante Portobello - officially the best Italian in London
At the end of Carnival and on the way back from Don’s traditional Carnival Monday barbecue, Wifey and I stopped into a pizzeria on Chamberlayne Road. For some reason it seemed a good idea at the time (00:30 Tuesday morning since you ask). It wasn’t. The pizza was a vile abomination and had no right to the appellation.
The base was a thick, putty like clump of damp matter, while the topping was a slimy mess of out of date and overcooked vegetation that may or may not have once been the mushrooms and spinach we requested. The only point in its favour must be that both Wifey and I benefited from an ironic nett reduction in calorific intake since we were unable to eat properly for the next four days while the feeling of lumpy goo subsided from our stomachs.
On day two I bumped into Gaz and co who were still coming down from Carnival by way of a cleansing ale in Nektar and told him of our hideous experience and ensuing discomfort.
“You need to try this new place just past the top end of Portobello Road. Pizzeria Ristaurante Portobello”, he told me. Now Gaz likes his food, so I take his recommendations seriously and as luck would have it, yesterday was the day after our wedding anniversary, which we call “Pizza Day” because the day after our wedding we went for a pizza. Two pizzas actually. It’s a tradition which we only started yesterday, but no matter, we decide to give this new place a shot and I’m really glad we did.
Like the pilot of a plane that has been shot down, we knew it was important to get back up in the air as soon as possible, so we hot footed it over there and were pleasantly surprised to see how this former Greek restaurant (and prior to that a rather nice tea rooms called “The Launderette” or some such) had been transformed.
Benefiting from a wide pavement area at the front with extra seating and being light and airy inside, the impression is given of being in a Mediterranean environment while escaping the cheesier aspects that can often result from attempts to give restaurants in London that Latin appeal. Simple and unpretentious is how I’d categorise it. Not, I’ll grant, two words often applied to Notting Hill by outsiders.
And the food - oh the food! Just seeing the pizzas come out while waiting for ours to arrive made us salivate. We chose the “Franco’s Surprise” option - a veggie one for me and a meat one for the carnivorous Wifey. When we asked the waiter what was on it he simply shrugged and said “Who knows?”. Pizzas are sold there by the half metre. It seems like something that’s started to happen here over the last 4 or 5 years, but we’re increasingly informed that “That’s the way they traditionally make it in …”, then tack on the name of the most obscure Italian region you can think of. Whatever, it is good for sharing that way.
When they arrived they were almost perfection. Crusts, thin, bubbly and just with the hint of slightly overdone bits here and there. The toppings, superb. Fresh and tastefully scattered for the perfect rustic effect. Mine was a combination of aubergine, capers, basil, sun dried tomatoes and a couple of other items that elude me at the moment. Wifey had some sort of meat (you understand it’s jut not my field of expertise), basil, rocket and something else.
Why did I say “almost” perfection? Well because to my pallet the combination of tastes was just slightly overwhelming. To be fair I could see myself putting it together too, but I’d be wrong. Wifey usually selects something simple and delicious like mushroom and spinach, possibly with some jalopeno peppers and I always end up enjoying hers more. I’m being very unfair here. It was excellent - the best damned pizza I’ve had in London I think.
The rest of the food looked amazing too and we’ll definitely be back there in the near future after which I’ll be singing its praises again. Pizzeria Ristorante Portobello is the Italian restaurant Notting Hill - no - London, has been waiting for. I’m in love!