Prezzo Restaurant

Peter Morrell enjoys a relaxed, multi-generation lunch at this Italian eaterie

Prezzo Beckenham exterior

Prezzo Beckenham exterior

Prezzo Beckenham interior

Prezzo Beckenham interior

Prezzo Beckenham interior 2

Prezzo Beckenham interior

My wife, two daughters, son in law and I all lead very busy lives and our opportunity to get together, relax and catch up with all the news is very limited. Add an enchanting little20 month old grand-daughter into the mix who we all love spending time with and our occasional lunches are important events.

The choice for our latest lunch was our local Prezzo in Beckenham High Street, south London. The restaurant has just introduced its new Spring menu so it was a good time go along and try some of the new dishes on offer.

The first impression when arriving at Prezzo is that lunch with the family on a Sunday is a very popular thing to do. Not surprising as the restaurant itself is a very comfortable place to spend sometime, with modern stylish decor and facilities like a high chair for the bambina. While we decided what to eat we ordered Pane con Cipolla, some garlic pizza bread with caramelised balsamic onions and melted mozzarella cheese to share. Absolutely delicious, with plenty for the adults and the baby.

There is an interesting eating trend with people ordering small plates of food and sharing them, it’s a very sociable thing to do and you get to try lot of different tastes, flavours and textures. Prezzo has picked up on this trend and has introduced eight small dishes as part of their new Spring menu. They can either be ordered singly as a starter or with 2 or 3 per person as a substantial main course. We decided to choose one each as a starter and had two antipastos, the pair of mini calzones, prawn bruschetta and mushroom crostini for our resident veggie.

All the dishes came as generous portions so there was enough for us all to share and try a bit of everything. I was impressed with the quality of the ingredients, stand-outs for me were the flavour of the prawns on the brushetta, the cured meats in the antipasto and the meat based calzone.  The other impressive thing was the price, ordering five, the dishes came in at £19.95 making the starters very good value for money at under £4.00 each.

There is a wide range of main courses, pizzas, calzones, pastas, salads and more traditional items like salmon, duck and chicken, which are all featured on the new Spring menu. For the mains my wife and I were keen to try the two newly introduced VIP, executive pizzas, the meat based steak and rocket and the vegetarian Queen Margherita. Our fish eating veggie had the lobster and crab tortelli, with the other two having the spaghetti  carbonara and the field mushroom risotto.

Our pizzas were superb, freshly cooked they had a crispy based and were loaded with toppings. There was lots of rare steak on mine, with cherry tomatoes, red onions, mozzarella and shavings of grana padano cheese. My wife’s pizza was in three sections featuring tomatoes, asparagus, spinach, a basil pesto dressing over rocket and a béchamel sauce. They were both served on a wooden board and even a pizza cutter.

The tortelli had whole pieces of lobster in it and was covered with a powerful sauce, there were generous amounts of bacon in the cheesy carbonara sauce and the mushrooms in the risotto had lots of flavour.

For the bambina there was a child’s menu at £5.95 for three courses and a soft drink. The choices were all children’s delights like garlic bread to start, pizza, spaghetti, or chicken wings for the main and ice cream to finish.

No Italian meal is complete without wine and beer, we had started with Peroni beers served in chilled glasses for the men and a glass of prosecco for the ladies, the latter at a reasonable £3.95. Red and white wines, mainly Italian start at £13.95 a bottle and apart from champagne nothing is over £20.00. There are several wines by the glass, the red drinkers having a glass of merlot which showed lots of fruit and spice, while the white drinkers enjoyed the tropical fruits of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Desserts were almost beyond us but I did have an affogato, ice cream with a shot of hot expresso, from the mini dessert menu which also came with a hot drink like a cappuccino. The rest of the party although tempted by things like the tiramisu and milk chocolate fudge cake decided to share a very decadent Honeycomb Smash Cheesecake, topped with crunchy honeycomb pieces coated in chocolate, the empty plate was an indication of its popularity.

Regular coffee for most and decaf for the insomniacs finished what was a relaxed and highly enjoyable lunching experience. We had been in the restaurant for more than three hours, the other like minded guests had made it a very convivial atmosphere in which to spend quality time with the family. The service throughout was friendly, efficient and helpful, there is a great selection of good quality, well cooked food and the prices are very reasonable.

The other good news is that you too can enjoy the Prezzo experience, there are 175 branches throughout the UK each with its own character and decor but all offering the same quality and value

For more information and the location of the branches go to www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk

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