the UK based Restaurant and Hotel Review
I have to declare a personal interest in this restaurant, based upon two criteria. It serves pizza (without doubt my favourite food for an inexpensive meal out) and is situated on Battersea Rise, only two minutes walk from my home.
Strada is a great addition to the restaurants which already line ‘the rise’ – as we locals like to call it. There’s French, modern British, even Argentinean and now Italian. But we’re not talking pseudo-Italian (where anything served on a dough base passes off as an ‘authentic’ Italian pizza) this is the real thing – simple, authentic Italian food prepared by a team of Italian chefs using traditional wood-fired ovens.
The prices are similar to those at Pizza Express (starters are around the £4 mark and the pizzas and pasta dishes start at £5.95 rising to £8.50) but the quality and experience is a definite notch up.
The interior of Strada is stylish with a 60s feel to the brown cloth-weave seats and muted cream walls. There is a welcome lack of clutter to the surroundings but the same can not be said of the seating arrangement. There was little more that four inches between our table and those either side. Fortunately neither was occupied but the proximity of our neighbours would undoubtedly have been overbearing – even if they had been very small and very quiet.
That, however, is my only criticism. The range of starters was a refreshing change from the ubiquitous dough balls, garlic bread or tomato and mozzarella salad which characterise most Italian restaurants. From a selection which declared their Italian origins and included traditional Tuscan soup made with borlotti beans and baby pasta and crostini di funghi, I chose wood roasted vegetables with pesto and goats cheese and my partner prosciutto di parma with seasonal fruit.
My choice was presented unfussily and asymmetrically (for those who tire of starters which are aesthetically perfectly balanced) with the vegetables heaped onto a thick wedge of bread. This is simple, nourishing food at its best and there was plenty of it. The parma ham was wafer thin and accompanied by slices of ripe pear - a very good salty/sweet combination.
To get ourselves started we first shared a bottle of authentic Italian Peroni lager, then we ordered a bottle of wine from an impressively extensive, exclusively Italian wine list. A nice touch is half litre carafes of house white and red, which, courtesy of measuring sticks, allows guests to pay only for what they actually drink. Also worth mentioning on the value for money front are the complimentary bottles of water, olive paste and bread sticks which we shared on arriving.
I dragged myself away from the selection of pizzas and opted for a pasta main course for the sake of variety. Although many of the fish options sounded tempting (spaghetti with squid, mussels, prawns, clams, fresh tomato as well as chilli and linguini with clams, chilli, garlic and parsley) I took the view that the simple choice is often the best choice. And the spaghetti with fresh cherry tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil did not disappoint. The sauce was sweet, the pasta loaded with half cooked cherry tomatoes and plenty of fresh parmesan and basil.
The pizzas are enormous – I don’t want to keep knocking Pizza Express but these must be at least twice the size, I thought, as I surveyed my partner’s choice (wilted spinach, garlic, nutmeg, parmesan, tomato and a free range organic egg) with an expert’s eye. The base was micro thin and loaded with topping which fell over the edge of the pizza if, like me, you are pernickety about eating your crusts.
For puddings, we asked the waitress (very friendly and very Italian) whether she recommended the tiramisu. She replied that it wasn’t as good as her own, but that the Torroncino Affogato was something else. This comment sums up the restaurant – unpretentious and staffed by real people who give their genuine opinions.
My partner took her at her word (not having a clue what he was ordering) and ended up having a shot of espresso poured over a mound of iced nougat. I can only state that this is an incredibly Italian dessert which certainly succeeded in waking up my partner who was uncharacteristically alert after his caffeine injection.
This is a great restaurant and strongly recommended. After the success of the Battersea Strada, a second restaurant is opening in Parsons Green this month, also under the auspices of The Belgo Group. If our experiences are anything to go by, Strada can only grow from there.
Tel: 020 7801 0794 Fax: 020 7801 0754
Opening times: Monday - Friday 12 - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm
Saturday 12 noon - 11.30pm
Sunday 12 noon - 10.30 pm
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