Celebrating Traditional Food from Emilia Romagna at Ponti’s Italian Kitchen:
My invitation to Ponti’s was to celebrate fifty years of the restaurant in London. Some achievement in our Capital where the turnover of restaurants must be one of the fastest in the world. In fact it’s a place that’s been around for so long I can’t remember the last time I ate in a Ponti’s. So, I went along to the Princes Street Branch (there are two Ponti’s Kitchens and a few other Ponti’s traditional restaurants together with some coffee shops) for a bit of a party and a chance to have a go at Pizza School! Ponti’s has managed to build up a great list of suppliers from Emilia Romagna and for their fiftieth anniversary have put together a menu that showcases the best of the ingredients they use
Of course we started with Prosecco, but the food very soon began to arrive. Large juicy green queen olives from Emilia Romagna, with some flat breads and black olive tapenade
And then the most beautiful mozzerella salad with roasted butternut squash, wilted greens and crispy parmesan.
Then a lovely scallop and parma ham dish – capesante con parma – scallops with warm focaccia. I love scallops and these were really very good. Wrapping them in parma ham is a little extravagant, though perfect suited to a birthday celebration!
Now, we were all eating and drinking. And forgetting that at some point we were supposed to be making pizza (and eating it!). I kept looking over at the long counter being laid out ready for Pizza Scuola. But, it’s very hard when beautiful dishes keep appearing, not to keep eating!
And you know there are things that are just very moreish. I loved the fagottini di formaggio made with a smoked scamorza cheese wrapped in Parma ham with sage butter and warm focaccia.
I think the Pollo Rosmarino was probably my least favourite dish – after all the rather wonderful small plates it just seemed a little too close to something I might make at home myself.
Though I couldn’t pretend that I can make a chargrilled chicken marinated in rosemary, with chargrilled vegetables, wilted spinach & pesto that looks quite as beautiful as the one in my photo.
The fish stew, spezzatino di pesce, was very good although I think I marginally prefer the Livorno version which has a richer sauce.
By the time we got to the Ravioli we were all completely full. Although somehow I seem to remember trying a little…
At this point we took a break to make pizza.
It was a remarkably smooth affair, given the amount of wine we’d all been drinking and the pizzas took about 5 minutes to cook. But none of us could face even taking a bite! So the restaurant very kindly packed them up for us to take home.
My pizza had large quantities of mozzarella and mortadella, some salame felino and some coppa ham, together with tomato puree, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil. Oh and quite a lot of chilli! It tasted very good the next day for supper!
Now, if you’d like to try Pizza Scuola, it’s just £18 per person, which includes a glass of prosecco and an Italian ice-cream for dessert. Or you could just go along and order from the special fiftieth anniversary menu. With starters from under £3.00 and main courses from around £9.00 you can feast in style without breaking the bank. Would I go back? Well yes – it’s excellent value for money and very well located just a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus. And while it’s not Michelin Star dining, the food is really well cooked, well sourced and served with a smile.