Wednesday, 23 July 2014

APULIA / IL BOTEGLIO / ATTILIO / POLPO

If you walk around Smithfield market, it is surrounded by Italian restaurants: Amico Bio, Apulia, Il Botteglio, Polpo, Attilio's… 
As I live around here, I have tried most of them. The only one I haven't been yet is Amico Bio (vegetarian restaurant)but it is my next project.

Apulia is by far my favourite (previous review HERE), it is my plan B when I have nothing in the fridge or when I am too lazy to cook. They have nice fresh products, the food is fantastic and pizzas are very good. Waiters and waitresses are always nice and welcoming. It always feels like being at home when I dine there. 
Buffalina: Tomato, buffalo mozzarella, parma ham and rocket
Capurso: Tomato, mozzarella, capers, spicy salami, sun dried tomatoes


Apulia is the best local Italian restaurant, but they have been victim of their success...some nights it is impossible to get a table. However, there is other Italian option around but there are not as good. 

9/10
Apulia Restaurant
50 Long Lane
London EC1A 9EJ
Twitter: @ApuliaLondon
Apulia on Urbanspoon

Everyday I walk past Il Boteglio. I always wonder if the place serves nice food. From outside the restaurant look quite traditional, they have a lot of Italian products by the window which makes it looks like a shop more than a restaurant. As soon as you enter, there is no decoration, the place is simple. 
My friend and I ordered one  pizza each as the rest of the menu was a bit boring and didn't look very appetising. 
While we were waiting,they offered bread with olive oil. Bread was the one you find in Tesco, the one you use to do your triangle sandwich before a road trip! I would have expect a least a slice of Italian bread instead of this one.

Because there was not many people in the restaurant on that night and the place didn't have any music, the atmosphere was very quiet and it felt a bit awkward. 
Both pizzas arrived, on that night there was a special offer, Margherita was £5, my pizza was £11.95 (normal price). 
They were not the best looking pizzas but they tasted okay. I left the crust as the dough was heavy and it tasted more like eating bread than a nice pizza crust.  
Margherita: cheese, tomato, organo
Il Boteglio: Cheese, tomato, ham, peppers, olives e salcicce italiana

Il Boteglio has a very nice location, prices are correct, but the food and presentation could be so much better. Menu is a bit boring and could be improved with original dishes. 
Waitresses were nice but they didn't look very happy to be there, the atmosphere was cold and quiet. I remembered my friend and I were thinking during all meal how to improve this place, so many ideas came to mind. Maybe a project for Gordon Ramsey..... 

3/10 
60 Long Lane
London EC1A 9EJ
Il Boteglio on UrbanspoonSquare Meal



Attilio's is on Cowcross street, next to Polpo. I have been twice to this restaurant. First time was 2 years ago when I moved to London, there was no table available at Polpo so I went to have a quick meal, it was okay. Kind of the same story happened recently, Apulia was packed and Polpo too so I went there with my friend. 

We both ordered the set dinner, which includes one starter, one main course, bread and olive oil and an Amaretto liqueur at the end of the meal. Set menu is around £15.
Grissini, olives and olive oil
Grissini is not what I call bread but at least it was a better option than the bread we had at Il Boteglio. 
Starters arrived a few minutes after we ordered. 
My avocado and prawn was the most disgusting starter I ever had, half of it was frozen ! It had no taste and was hardly edible.
Compared to my dish my friends starter was alright, but calamari wasn't very crispy, bit soggy but at least they were not frozen!
Avocada vinaigrette and prawns
Calamari Fritti
Roma: cheese, tomato, capers, salami, sweetcorn (I requested mine without sweetcorn)

After our starters, we waited a long time for our pizza... the restaurant was packed on that night so we didn't say anything while we were waiting, until I noticed that a table which arrived after us had their main before us. At this time we already wait 30 minutes. 
I called a waitress to asked her where was our pizza. She didn't know and seemed to have totally forgot our order. I told her what we ordered 40 minutes ago again, and without any apology she went to the kitchen and placed our order.
Our pizza finally arrived 50 minutes after finishing our starters. Time was very long for me as I didn't eat my starter. 
Pizzas were fine apart from mine was a bit burnt and tasted like it. 
Pasmigiana: cheese, tomato, rugola and parma ham

When it came to the bill, the waitress didn't arrange anything considering the wait and the fact she forgot our table during her service. I considered the service on that night to be awful, my starter was disgusting and my pizza was burnt. It is the last time I will consider going to Attilio's as a option if other restaurant are packed. Next time I would rather order a take away online. 

1/10 

Attilio's
1 Cowcross St
London EC1M 6DR
Attilio on Urbanspoon 

Polpo is one of the most difficult restaurants  to go around Smithfield on a week night as it is always packed. My secret to avoid the queue is to go there on Sunday late lunch. Smithfield market is a dead but nice area on Sundays. 
If you are lucky too, you could probably get a table straight outside to enjoy the sun while having lunch.
Last time I went with my sister, we shared a potato and parmesan crocchette. They were as good as the one I had a year ago (Review HERE). 

As a second course we shared Tuscan bread salad and heritage tomatoes. I was a bit disappointed as I forgot tomatoes in England don,t have much taste, I was just coming back from Spain where I had nice, juicy and tasty tomato. These tomatoes were a bit watery. 
 Tuscan bread salad and heritage tomatoes
One of my favourite dishes which I always order is pizzette bresaola, rocket and parmesan. I never share it so my sister ordered one too. 
 Pizzette bresaola, rocket & parmesan


As a main we shared beef and pork meatballs and spaghettini. I like the little spiciness the meatballs had. They gave a good kick into your mouth. 
Meatballs and spaghettini

If you get a chance to have a table outside on sunny days or during a warm night, I think Polpo is the best option around Smithfield market for any occasion. It is often very busy, that's why I don't go there as much as I'd like! 

9/10
Polpo
3 Cowcross Street
London EC1M 6DR
Twitter: @PolpoSoho
Polpo on UrbanspoonSquare Meal

Apulia and Polpo are by far the two best Italians around Smithfield market. It is very good because they are totally different, they don't really compete with each other apart from being Italian. Polpo is more sharing plates and trendy dishes, and Apulia is more traditional Puglian dishes of pasta and pizza. 
Polpo is nice for any occasion, while Apulia I think is better for a relaxing and friendly evening, it feels more like being home. 

Regarding the others, Il Boteglio could be better with some basic thinking. Attilio's was an 'okay' place two years ago but now after my last experience it is probably the last place I will go for a meal. 
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