"A perfectly serviceable Italian restaurant with a lovely bar beneath – what more could you want?"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
We’d been shopping in the sales and it was early Saturday evening. My friend didn’t want to eat but I was starving having missed both breakfast and lunch. It was a miserable day and raining. We were tired and cold. We ventured to Heddon Street knowing that there were a number of restaurants there so we’d have some choice.
In this part of town, conveniently just off Regent Street, all the places have seating outside and a few brave souls were eating or drinking al fresco. Many of the places looked pretty empty and so we chose Piccolino because it was the busiest and looked warm and inviting inside.
There were quite a few tables available although it felt rather busy. The other diners were diverse – young and old, couples and groups, shoppers and tourists. But everyone looked pretty relaxed and happy. I got the impression that whilst the turnover was fast, they didn’t seem to mind if you lingered.
The décor was simple but pleasant and we immediately felt at home with our bags piled around our ankles. There was a fresh fish counter tucked behind a divider and adjacent to a sizeable bar. The higher shelves contained glass jars of pasta. You could mistakenly think you were in a little restaurant in Italy.
The staff were efficient without being brusque. They didn’t seem to mind that we just ordered a couple of large glasses of wine (Montepulciano at £7.50) and tap water. The bread and oil was free.
The calamari fritti (£8.75) had a light, crispy batter and the squid was lightly cooked so it had some bite to it without being tough. The garlic mayonnaise was delicate and not too heavy.
The large spaghetti vongole (£14.25) – which is one of my favourites – was very good although I would have liked a slightly larger portion. I piled the shells in the empty bread dish. The total came to £42.75 which included service.
But the surprise was that when we visited the loos downstairs on our way out we discovered a rather fabulous bar called Cicchetti. It was somewhat darker and more intimate and stylish than the restaurant upstairs – as if time had been slowed down as we descended the stairs. We decided then and there to take a stool at the massive central bar, chat to the friendly Italian bar men and enjoy another glass of wine.
I was amazed to find such a marvellous bar with plenty of space early on a Saturday evening. So two venues in one - A perfectly serviceable Italian restaurant with a lovely bar beneath – what more could you want?
KimT reviewed Piccolino on Fri 04 Jan 2013