Having read some rave and some lambasting reviews of Rossopomodoro it was with trepidation that I suggested we dine here when my Mum came to visit. It's close to work and pretty cheap so I decided to trust the positive reviews, some even claim this to be one of the best pizza restaurants in London.
A brief bit about the place, Rossopomodoro is an Italian chain serving food and wine inspired by Naples, they claim to source a superior quality of ingredients than many of their counterparts. All sounds good but due to the 'cook to order' nature of the food prep here, it seems slow service is often an issue. This did not seem a major negative as we were planning on a leisurely evening, aiming to arrive around 6:30. There are 3 branches in London, we visited the Monmouth Street one.
Upon requesting an outdoor table the waitress glared at me in a manner akin to how I imagine she would look at her sworn enemy. I'm putting this down to a language misunderstanding, we actually found the service to be perfectly acceptable after this blip and the food was served with a smile for the rest of the evening, we waited for a maximum of 10 minutes for any one course.
The best dishes were indeed, as reported, the pizzas. The charred thick bases were brilliantly smattered with air pockets and whatever oven they're using here certainly makes for a perfect dough. Thomas and I both ordered bianco pizzas without tomato sauce. I selected the acerrana topped with mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes (advertised as sliced but in fact whole, lazy!), rocket and caciocavallo cheese, a hard cheese which retained it's shape and didn't melt, like shavings of Parmesan.
Thomas opted for the Ventura with mozzarella, parma ham, rocket, Parmesan and basil. We both agreed that this is the best pizza we've had in London (but we're still to sample the delights at Franco Manca.....) and my Mum thought it was the best she'd eaten anywhere. I feel that the toppings could be improved upon, the cheese was great but the sun dried tomatoes were a bit over dried, hard and a tad boring. Still, this is much more like it and miles ahead of other chain pizza places, you know who you are.
My Mum had the Rossopomodoro salad with tomato, egg, olives, smoked aubergine and buffalo caciocavello cheese, she was happy with it.
What stood out for me was Thomas' buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad. The quality of the cheese was beyond anything I've been able to locate in London, and I've tried pretty hard and sampled a lot of what's on offer. This is the closest I've come to matching the quality a mozzarella brought back to the UK by a Neapolitan colleague following a trip home. For me good tomatoes, cheese, basil, a high quality olive oil and a tart and fruity balsamic vinegar is an unbeatable flavour combination. Simple but special, I know others decry this sort of fare due to its modest and uncomplicated nature but, for me, such fresh and delectable ingredients can be just as good as more complex and refined flavours.
We sampled a couple of desserts too which were more of a disappointment, the chocolate and almond cake was dense and powdery, very rich but with an artificial flavour, it was served with custard ice cream and some squirty cream. Nothing remarkable here, slightly better was the almond ice cream with hot nutella sauce, there's little room for error when melted nutella is involved!
I like this place, for a West End chain restaurant their sourcing of ingredients sets them apart from other similar establishments. I would go back for a ball of mozzarella and a nice glass of Italian wine one evening, as it's just around the corner from the office this might just become a regular haunt.
50-52 Monmouth Street