- Location: Piazza, 35 Cranbourn Street, London, WC2H 7AD (nearest tube station is Leicester Square)
- Date of Visit: Friday 5th July 2013
- Time of Table: 6.45pm
- Deal Bought From: Wowcher
- Deal Price: £19 for Two
- Dinner Companion: Best Friend, Meral
Getting More for your Money?
This dinner deal includes:
- Two Starters
- Two Main Courses
- Two Glasses of House Wine (Red or White)
- For Two people
What we ate…
- Starter: Antipasto di Verdure
- Main: Pollo Siciliana
- Dessert: Banana Split (not included)
- Starter: Caprese
- Main: Pollo Siciliana
- Dessert: Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream (not included)
What we drank…
- Glass of House White Wine each
- Glass of Tap Water each (not included)
- Cappuccino (not included)
- Breakfast Tea (not included)
What did we think?
Situated a simple stone’s skim away from Leicester Square tube station, Piazza waves the flag for traditional yet simplistic Italian cuisine amid the artistic and creative hum of London’s popular film district; the atmosphere crackling with the buzz of the dying working weekday to be replaced with the childlike excitement present in the dawn of the budding weekend.
With an exterior splashed in the cheerful tones of the Italian flag, Piazza follows routine by openly showcasing their genre of food in their venue name and styling. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the eatery tumbles out onto the street, in the form of outdoor bistro style seating, as well as the dessert selection sitting pretty in the front of the window display, alluringly revealing thick and tall layers of gooey cheesecakes, pies and creamy concoctions. Fighting the tide of the pedestrian current, we stepped through the main entrance – doors widely flung open in greeting – to be enveloped in the comfortable and cosy vibe that echoed around the family run restaurant.
Piazza has a wonderfully relaxed approach to décor that felt almost as if you had just popped round a friend’s house for dinner, rather than going out to a restaurant, the plain white walls housing simple wire art pieces and a boldly colourful mural by the main entrance. The tables were simply dressed with a single peach rose and basic condiments, again enhancing the not-trying-too-hard theme. My friend Meral and I were quickly settled on to a roomy rectangular table designed for four people and presented with the full menu and wine list to peruse.
Included in our voucher was a glass of house wine, and we opted to sample the white, which was generously poured into our glasses. Although I prefer white to red wines, I do also see hazard signs when picking the house selection, as I really hate dry and tangy whites. Luckily this one was rather smooth with a vague smack of fruity flavour, which made it a lovely and light accompaniment for the meal. Because the glasses were also erring on the large side, it meant that we didn’t feel the need to order any more wine, thus keeping our additional costs down too.
With an array of classic Italian starters to choose from, I was spoilt when it came to selecting our first round of food. Fancying fresh flavours, I decided to pick the Antipasto di Verdure, which was packed with vibrant Mediterranean vegetables that had been chargrilled to really bring the intense tastes bubbling up to the surface of the thinly slivered veg. Roasted peppers, earthy aubergine, oil smothered courgettes, garlic packed mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and slabs of white mozzarella were scattered decoratively across a large wooden chopping board. Two small chunks of garlic bread and a white dish of olives finished my starter off, and I have to say I was already impressed by the gorgeously rustic presentation, as well as the tantalising scents wafting up to my nostrils. The combination of punchy and powerful flavours however blew me away and I thoroughly enjoyed mixing up the vegetables to create various tastes and textures. I particularly loved the heady and rich intensity that boomed in the sun dried tomatoes, and paired with the garlic bread, this was divine. The squidgy mozzarella was also a great contrast against the oily slices of veg. The selection of vegetables chosen really worked together in perfect harmony and I just absolutely loved compiling my dish as I went along, creating the flavour combinations as I pleased.
After being so excited and pleased with my starter, I was eagerly anticipating my main course, the Pollo Siciliana – a classic chicken number, dressed with prosciutto ham with a brandy and cream sauce, paired with roasted potatoes and green beans. When the meal arrived, although it looked delicious, it also looked small and I really wished I’d ordered an extra side to bulk up the meal. The roast potatoes were some of the best I have eaten – they almost tasted fried because of their crispy texture and oily taste, but they also had a fantastic hidden kick of garlic and herbs that was a pleasant surprise when I tucked in to the fluffy nuggets. The chicken was tasty and cooked well, although the prosciutto was well hidden under the smothering of sauce that I felt was completely devoid of brandy, which was bit of a disappointment. It was an excellent white sauce but I wanted the deep brandy hit and I definitely felt I was missing it. It was a very simple and easy dish, granted, but on the whole it was executed well, although I would have enjoyed a larger portion and for the sauce to deliver on how it was advertised in the menu, as that was one of the reasons that I selected this particular dish from the array of pizza, pasta and meat dishes available. The green beans were dressed simply and left plain in a small pile on the side of the plate.
Going from an amazing starter, to a distinctly average main course meant that I had no idea what to expect when we decided to go for dessert on top of our two courses included in the voucher. I opted for the Banana Split, a childish delight that I haven’t had in ages. I was able to pick the ice cream that I wanted so I went for two scoops of stracciatella (vanilla ice cream peppered with small chunks of chocolate chips) and one scoop of chocolate, that was housed within my banana before being topped with lashings of cream, squirted with a decorative swirl of chocolate sauce and scattered with a delicate crunch of nuts. After my first spoonful, I was back in the realm of brilliant flavours as again, a generally simple culinary idea is performed well. The stracciatella had a beautifully delicate vanilla taste with just the right amount of chocolate chips to satisfy my inner chocaholic. I loved the array of textures that assaulted my taste buds and the whole dessert really came together well, the fluffy whipped cream the perfect counterbalance to the darkly sensual and rich chocolate central ice cream scoop. It was so tasty I reckon I could easily have managed two of these, especially as my portions so far had been extremely manageable!
To finish off our meal, we went for some hot drinks – a cappuccino for me and a breakfast tea for Meral. The coffee was very nice, with a luxuriously thick layer of frothy milk on top, served in a small and plain white cup and saucer.
Making a second reservation? Yes, on the whole I think I would. I think Piazza would be a place ideal for large numbers or group bookings, as the menu has a nice varied selection of salads, pizza, pasta, chicken, meat and seafood dishes and the full prices aren’t even particularly eye watering, which is fantastic considering the location of the venue. Although the dishes are very simplistic in their flavours this also means that there is something for everyone and should keep even the fussiest of eaters completely satisfied. The service was prompt, efficient and polite, the waitress also kindly offering to take our picture when she spotted my camera. They were a bit hesitant about how my voucher worked however, which meant I felt I had to keep reminding them about our wine, which was not forthcoming for quite a while. I paid £19 for the initial voucher and then we paid an additional £18 in the restaurant to cover the costs of dessert, hot drinks and service charge, which when you split it between two people, is excellent value for money.
I enjoyed Piazza on the whole, and although the food can only be described as simple and easy cooking, the presentation was thoughtful and the execution was delicious. My favourite courses were starters for the burst of colourful flavours and then dessert, as it totally hit my sweet spot.
The Dinner Dates Opinion:
“Piazza was an absolute surprise. When Katie suggested going to a central London restaurant, I was expecting a snooty, exclusive restaurant, especially since it was so close to a major tube station and in what I would consider an “arty” part of town. Instead, it was a small restaurant, with warm touches of decor that made it feel like someone’s dining room where you were just stopping to hang out for a little and have some truly delicious food. The service was impeccable – friendly and fast without the sense that we were being rushed along. My starter was a classic Italian dish of mozzarella and tomatoes, and I think I moaned with delight at every mouthful! Katie and I had the same main meal; crunchy and yet fluffy potatoes, fresh green beans and chicken topped with Parma ham, smothered in a cream and brandy sauce. My only complaint was that there wasn’t more! Though, when we followed up our mains with dessert (apple pie and ice cream, for me) I think they got the portion sizes spot on. I would have burst otherwise! All for £9.02 each – service charge included! A wonderful experience and I would definitely recommend to anyone else in the area – seriously anyone as the rest of the customers were all ages and a blend of locals and tourists.”