Take a timeout

I work in Fitzrovia, which for those of you who don’t know is media-central just north of Oxford Street. It’s buzzy and vibrant and there are more than enough bars, restaurants, cafes and sandwich shops to tickle your fancy..one of those places is the cute and relatively unobtrusive Sardo Cucina.

Sardo Cucina is an Italian coffee shop – an offshoot of the original Sardo Canale restaurant based in Primrose Hill. It’s perfect for a quick coffee or for grabbing some freshly made pasta, a slice of pizza or a panini. Small, but perfectly formed – it even provides Italian newspapers for the customers – a sure sign that even native speakers themselves frequent this coffee shop.

I visited on a sunny afternoon and it was a great way to escape the bustle of the main streets and take a time-out during a busy day. We tried the torta di riso (rice cake) which is a bit of a speciality. It is unusual, but delicious to taste – composed of risotto rice and rice flour which creates its unique flavour. Delicious.

So next time you’re looking for some peace and quiet and some good food, try Sardo!

(Sardo Cucina, 110 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 5EE.)

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Lunchtime heaven

Looking for a way to treat yourself this Monday? Head to the incredible Princi on Wardour Street for fine Italian treats at seriously affordable prices.

Princi is an Italian fast-food restaurant, but in typical Italian style, it’s all class – think upmarket deli, rather than greasy chip shop. The fact that half the customers are Italian is a good sign. On entering the shop, you are met with row upon row of mouth-watering cakes. Be sure to try the dark chocolate and bitter lemon slice – decadence epitomized.

For the main event, there are some lovely salads; ricotta and beetroot, caprese (tomato, basil & mozzarella) and a selection of oven-roasted vegetables. You can also grab slices of crispy pizza, pasta, lasagne, canneloni,¬†melanzane parmigiana (baked aubergine) and much much more. Half the problem is deciding what to choose..it’s all beautifully presented and completely delicious!

What’s great about this place is that it opens late (midnight) so you can grab dinner on the go (they serve wine) or go continental and enjoy an espresso and a slice of one of their cakes before heading home. It can be quite frenetic in there around lunchtime, but the turnover is quick so you’ll be sure to get a table. Alternatively, pick up a box of goodies and take them with you – YUM!

(Princi, 135 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0UT)

Feast in the East

I finally made it to Pizza East last week and what a treat it was! Situated within the old T-Bar building on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and the Bethnal Green Road, you feel as though you’ve joined the cool crowd from the minute you step through the door. All exposed brickwork and stripped back wooden floors with plenty of steel it has an immediate industrial feel, however the warm glow from the oversized lampshades, creates an intimate and relaxed atmosphere.

We were seated at the bar which is where all the action is – watching the staff carve up endless slices of prosciutto definitely whetted our appetite for the main event. The pizzas are pricey if you want anything other than a basic margarita, but the combinations of veal meatballs with cream or the 4-cheese with Provolone sets this pizzeria apart from all the rest. There are also deli platters and hot dishes such as fried polenta or clams and nduja (sausage) if you don’t fancy a pizza. Delish!

I enjoyed the San Daniele, ricotta and fresh pesto pizza on a classically rustic base – it was nothing short of a delight. Because the ingredients are so fresh, the flavours are light and delicate, leaving you feeling comfortably sated as opposed to uncomfortably stuffed. Perfect for heading down to the basement bar – Concrete, for a cocktail and a dance afterwards. However, the big secret of this eatery are the incredible puddings – these deserve an entire blog dedicated to them alone, but I’ll leave that for you to discover. Happy feasting!

(Check out Pizza East for yourself, bookings recommended.) 

Delectable italian goats cheese

I’ve had a long standing love affair with goats cheese. It serves as a delicious snack by itself as well as being a great ingredient in savoury tarts, salads or even a frittata. Over the years I’ve tried (and been disappointed with) all the supermarket offerings – surprisingly CostCo’s ‘Heritage’ range goats cheese is one of the best! Hmmm.

Anyway, my latest discovery is the delicious caprino which is being sold at my local Brixton grocers – A&C Co. situated on the corner of Atlantic Road and Brixton Road.

A specialist grocers, they sell a diverse range of cheeses, salamis, fresh breads and olives in addition to standard seasonal veg and there is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere whenever I visit. This is probably the reason I always end up leaving with far more than originally intended!

Highly recommended are the olives stuffed with garlic and mature manchego, but by far my favourite is the italian goats cheese Рcaprino fresco (meaning fresh). Half the enjoyment is just unwrapping the traditional waxed paper in which the cheese is carefully packaged. Inside resides the creamiest, whitest goats cheese I have ever tasted. Crumbly and melt in the mouth, this is best enjoyed pared with a slice of portuguese sour dough bread.

Believe me, other goats cheese pale in comparison. Yum!