Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ciro's Pizza Pomodoro

Ciro’s Pizza Pomodoro has featured on the London culinary circuit since 1978 which makes it only one year younger than yours truly. Dining at establishments with rich histories is just one of the numerous aspects I enjoyed about London, and Ciro’s is a prime example.

Located in the basement level of a residential building somewhere around Knightsbridge, it is definitely not one of the more seemingly glamorous or prominent restaurants in the city. You have to walk through a rather narrow and colorful flight of stairs to enter the small and dimly lit dining area.

There are only a handful of tables here and they are dispersed on a first come first served basis. And from what I hear, they are always packed. So I was assuming that the food here would be something truly sensational and above the norm. From their extensive Italian menu we sampled the cheese bread, which was quite awesome.

To dip in we ordered these garlic drenched mushrooms, how could you go wrong with that.

And this plate of fresh mozzarella, avocado, and mushrooms. There is nothing in this world like REAL fresh mozzarella.

For the mains we all picked off these gorgeous pizzas.

And fresh made lasagna, which I have to admit I have tried better of.

For desert we had not one, but 2 of these prophet rolls (I can’t spell that) that were smothered in chocolate sauce and filled with rich whipped cream. Need I say more?

So as fantastic as the food was, did it really stand so far apart from any other top notch Italian restaurant? Not really. But what puts Ciro’s entirely in a league of its own is the atmosphere. One would commonly expect an aged London eatery with a solid reputation to be a stiff upper-class joint with exorbitant prices. Ciro’s is tucked away beneath the streets giving you a feeling of retreat from the hectic world above, the bar is extremely well stocked, and the staff super friendly. And they are one of the few restaurants in the city to feature a live band.

The 2 man show is not loud and obnoxious but rather fun and interactive with the home crowd. They play songs that the people want to hear and encourage the patrons to sing along. This might seem slightly cheesy in a Hard Rock Caféish kind of way, but in such a small place it introduces a level of intimacy to the scene.

The interior of Ciro’s might seem dark at first because every available surface is plastered with photographs of the proprietor Ciro posing with his celebrity (and non-celebrity) friends and family. This guy looks like a real character with his long hair, funky clothes, and tattooed arms. He is up there partying with everyone from Jean Claude Van Dame to Al Pacino himself! The photos feature Ciro in the 70’s kicking it up with Farha Faucet, in the 80’s with George Micheal, leather jacket and all, in the 90’s with Jimaroquai, and more recently on the set of Alexander with Collin Farrel and Ollie Stone.

Not only does this collage of images serve as a great conversation piece, I believe it also invokes some sort of aspiration in the viewer to partake in the rock star lifestyle and let their hair down as well. At least that is what I think I witnessed.

Food and drink at Ciro’s Pizza Pomodoro is extremely fairly priced by London standards and once dinner is done, the booze flows. Weather you go there with a group of friends or on a date, you will surly leave in a good mood and with something to talk about. I believe they have a few more locations around the city but I would highly recommend their flagship. It is a piece of London history on its own. Bon Appetite.

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