We’ve all been there. That moment when you’re in a familiar part of town, but have no idea where to go to find a great restaurant. After a few failed attempts to search TripAdvisor, Yelp and Qype, and an unfruitful Google of ‘Best restaurants Oxford Street’, you end up in Strada. Again.
Next time you’re in that predicament, consider paying Ponti’s Italian Kitchen a visit. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because the Ponti’s Group have spread their wings a little wider than central London, with Ponti’s cafés popping up in shopping centres around the southeast of England. But don’t let that put you off – the two Ponti’s Italian Kitchens (one a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, the other, bizarrely, 5 minutes down the road at Bond Street) are a different beast altogether.
Ponti’s was started by Guiseppe Ispani in 1963, a man passionate about bringing good Italian food and coffee to London (along with just a few of his compatriots). Hailing from Emilia-Romagna, the food he served was – and still is – centred around that region. Think Parma ham, parmesan, Modena balsamic vinegar… With ingredients that good, it doesn’t take much to make very, very good, simple dishes. Luckily, Ponti’s Italian Kitchen doesn’t disappoint.
The menu (which has just been revamped) reads like many an Italian restaurant – antipasti, mains (steak, chicken or salmon), pizza, pasta and risotto, salads. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find things like Capesante Con Parma – perfectly cooked scallops, wrapped in salty Parma ham and lightly seared in garlic butter (£6.90), and antipasto boards made of regional meats and cheeses such as Salame Piacentino, Coppa and Parmagiano-Reggiano (£6.95). The pizzas are baked to order, taking just a few minutes to crisp up in the fiery wood stone oven. And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with a creamy torta di Amaretto (amaretto cheesecake, £4.95) or bomboloni di ricotta (ricotta doughnuts from Emilia Romagna, £4.95).
The restaurant have recently launched their Pizza Scuola (school), where you can pick up tips on making the perfect dough, learn to throw pizzas like a true Italian and create your perfect pizza all in the space of an hour. After throwing it in the open oven for a couple of minutes, you sit down to eat, with a glass of Prosecco included. Top it all off with a sweet Italian ice cream, for the perfect – and extremely affordable – Italian evening.
Ponti’s Italian Kitchen
5-7 John Princes Street
Tel: 020 3230 3018
Pizza Scuola is available Sunday – Thursday evenings for £18 per person including the class, pizza, a glass of Prosecco and ice cream. Call 020 3230 3018 for more details and to book.