283 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London, W11 2QA
Background: Living (and eating) in Notting Hill can be exhausting (and fattening). We also tend to frequent the same restaurants over and over again. Come Sunday there is often no food in the house and Pascal and I debate if we should just go back to the usual or try something new. Negozio Classica was recommended to us by two trusted sources, Skye (who also recommended the Ottolenghi cookbook for which I am forever grateful) and Melissa, my Pilates instructor (read great body and healthy) so it seemed appropriate for a light Sunday night bite. Negozio Classica is on the corner of Westbourne Grove and Portobello Road, a corner with uber people watching possibilities (although probably not recommended on a Saturday)and is basically a wine shop with a couple of tables. Negozio means shop in Italian so that would make sense to anyone who speaks Italian; I do not so I looked it up. This also means that if you order wine then you pay a shop price and not a restaurant price which is great news.
The Meal: Most of the dishes are basically starters with the possible exception of the beef filet, so we started off with the Mozzarella di bufala, avocado and cherry tomatoes and the Parma Ham and Mozzarella with figs (PS the menu items were obviously in Italian but I didn’t grab a menu and am not that clever). The Parma ham and figs was very nice, the ham was lovely, although, having eaten a lot of Parma ham I wasn’t so sure it was the genuine article. We asked the waiter he assured me it was and they get it special delivery blah blah. I believe him and either way it was really nice and the figs were great.
The mozzarella dish, however, was a bit disappointing. Given the limited and simple nature of the menu you would really expect each dish to be spot on, but while the mozzarella was good it was not exceptional and the avocado was unripe to the point of being inedible. Fair enough if you are attempting to make this dish in an igloo in Greenland and your shipment of avocados was late or not ripe enough, but inexcusable if you are a restaurant in London ON Portobello Road where they sell ripe avocados 6 days a week. Granted, Sunday is not one of those six days but still, you do not serve a tennis ball to your diners and hope they won’t notice it’s not avocado. Same same.
Next up we had the beef carpacio and the fillet of steak. The Capacio was nicely seasoned and the salad was well put together. The steak was also good but nothing to write home about. It seems that the lesson with this meal is that you aren’t supposed to treat Negozio like a proper restaurant where you order a starter and a main, etc. This was our mistake. Instead the approach should have been to order the selection of cured meats and the cheese plate and maybe something else like the Pappa al pomodoro, which is thick yummy bread soaked with tomatoes.
Dessert: This part of the meal should never have happened. We didn’t need desserts, we weren’t still hungry but somehow we managed to order not one but two sweet treats; the Chocolate Fondant and the Pannacotta. This was where the restaurant really fell down, literally in the case of the Pannacotta which looked more like a puddle and tasted like tapioca pudding (luckily for them, I really like tapioca). The chocolate fondant was also not what it advertised but instead was more of mushy brownie, tasted ok too. But in both cases I felt a little bit duped and figured they were using some sort of store bought desserts of the Gϋ variety.
Closing Thoughts: All in all the experience as ok, I would definitely change my style of ordering for the next time, skip dessert and concentrate more on the wine than anything else. The ambience is nice and a table outside is always welcome. The service is a bit slow but nothing worth complaining about. In truth, great for a glass of wine and some nibbles, not the other way around.
Silverware: Modern and thin
Silverspoons: 5.5 / 10
Damage: £40 / person (pricey we thought given the wine is retail priced)