Fish soup at Piccola Italia in The Green, Ealing
Michael Russell eats at Piccola Italia, 21 The Green, Ealing, W5 5DA. Tel: 020 8840 0700.
JUST yards away from established Italian restaurants, Piccola Italia must have faced a lot of competition in the five or so months it has been open.
But judging by the experience my girlfriend and I had dining there I can see why it is holding it's own.
The small restaurant was quite busy, with about half its tables full when we walked in on a quiet Wednesday night. It was decked out in some of the usual cliches, checked table clothes, terracotta walls and photos of Italy. But it was cosy and felt reasonably intimate despite the number of other diners.
The waiter offered to take my girlfriend's coat, but then, bizarrely, laid it over a chair at an empty table after realising he had nowhere to hang it. He was very friendly, though, bantering with the customers and the service was very good.
Neither of us felt like alcohol so we both had cranberry juices at £2 each.
There was a good selection of pizzas, meat and pasta dishes, on the menu. In the end I chose the Zuppadi Pesce (fish soup) off the specials board for £10.95. The swordfish, king prawns, mussels, clams and calamari were oven baked in a cherry tomato and white wine sauce. The sauce was very good, subtle yet flavoursome, but some of the fish was a little bland. It came with crusty bread which was perfect for mopping up the sauce.
My girlfriend had homemade gnocchi with bolognaise sauce costing £7.95. It was tasty and filling (luckily so filling that I also got to eat some) definitely a good choice.
The dishes on the menu are reasonably priced. With service charge the total bill came to £25.20.
The restaurant used to be a cafe called Bistro which was unremarkable and which I only ever visited when I failed to find a seat at Farm W5 a couple of doors down.
Piccola Italia (which means Little Italy) is definitely an improvement, despite the number of other Italians in the area. I'm sure I'll be back to sample some more of their homemade pasta.