Finding a good Italian restaurant around Oxford Circus which won’t leave you sailing towards bankruptcy is a hard task, but Ponti’s Italian Kitchen on John Princes Street is an excellent little spot which ticks all the right boxes.
Firstly the food is fresh, well-balanced and lovingly prepared with the kind of care and passion you are more likely to find over in Italy and the menu is just the right size with a balance of traditional dishes along with some modern twists.
As far as genuine Italian food goes it’s pretty much spot on. The family heritage of the business, which dates back to 1963, is steeped in everything from the friendly and helpful staff to the quirky touches such as the big open plan kitchen.
All the food comes from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and everywhere you look there are hunks of dried meat hanging from the ceiling and platters of creamy mozzarella, fresh green olives and crisp breads to mop it all up with.
The whole experience was comfortable and welcoming. I tried the Rigatoni Moderna (£9.50), which is a blend of Parma Ham, mozzarella and tomatoes with a few pretty garden peas for decoration.
The Carbonara (9.75) is also not to be missed and uses a modern twist of crispy pancetta layers along with a parmesan croccantino to dip in.
When it comes to the wine, go for the Pinot Nero, Quattro Valli. It’s served in the traditional way in a Scodella – a bowl with no handles – and it’s the perfect companion to the zesty dishes.
If you can face a pudding the bomboloni di ricotta tastes like a mouthful of treasure. It’s formed of several crisp, sweet outer layers giving into smooth, creamy ricotta underneath with a gooey honey to dip into. For those who have been defeated by the thought of pudding, you can choose a mini version of any of the dishes to have alongside a coffee.
This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.