It’s hard to walk past Princi without stopping and gazing through its large windows to its inviting interior. Bakers, draped in white, stand over deep, glass display cases housing picturesque, flaky pastries amongst a background of visibly crusty, tanned boules and baguettes. The aroma fans out onto the street, further enticing you towards the door. Diners, sat up against the windows, bear the smiles of children in a candy store as huge, aesthetically irreproachable pizzas and creamy twists of spaghetti are passed over their heads and onto their tables, beseeching to be devoured. The scenes provide indisputable evidence that carbohydrates are the king of macronutrients. It’s a sight to behold, a sight I had resisted for too long.
The restaurant is teeming with others lured in by the spectacle and smell; luckily most are here for the bakery, resulting in a short 5 minute wait for a table in the dining section. We’re ushered to our table where we find a concise menu consisting of half a dozen pizza and pasta dishes. Everything is tempting and in the end, my belly rules over my head and wallet; consequently, I order both a carbonara and a margherita (ooh, how naughty!). It must be mentioned that this was after a considerable wait to order our food. Let’s just say that the service was far from attentive. As for the ambience, the sheer volume of customers, the open kitchen design and the music result in something that feels like an upscale Nando’s – interpret that however you want.
Rather promptly after ordering, the food arrives and my eyes lit up. The crust of the pizza majestically puffed up and the mozzarella was bubbling like the surface of a hot tub. However, it was the carbonara I first attended to: a royal concoction of egg yolks and guanciale, draped in a cloak of parmesan and pecorino. The home-made pasta is cooked perfectly al dente, as it should be; covered in the fatty, salty, perfectly seasoned sauce, every mouthful is delightful – the dish is truly greater than the sum of its parts. My portion was spot on. However my companion, who had ordered the gorgonzola ravioli, felt a little short-changed when he received only 3 ravioli. I conceded to allow him half of my pizza. The crust was not as crisp as I had anticipated and was chewy. Make no mistake, the sauce and cheese were great. I just prefer a base with a little more structure to it.
Most pizzas and pastas on the menu hover around the £10 mark. But be sure to take into account the service charge, which felt like a bit of a slap in the face considering we saw the waiter about twice. Overall, if you wish to satisfy your pizza and pasta cravings and can’t bear to wait two hours in the line at Padella, Princi is a fantastic, affordable alternative that will hit the spot with it’s well done classics.
Food – 8/10
Affordability – 8/10
Ambiance – 6/10