REVIEW: Rossopomodoro, Garratt Lane, Wandsworth

Part of an 80 strong European chain, Rossopomodoro Wandsworth is the newest UK edition – situated behind the Southside Shopping Centre. The first Rossopomodoro emerged some twenty years ago, in the heart of Naples. It was so well received that it meant an opportunity for world wide expansion to places such as Japan, Turkey, USA, Saudi Arabia and all over Europe – and it’s still growing.What I think really makes Rossopomodoro thrive – and not only because its always full of Italians, but is because it takes such pride in its produce. All of the ingredients they use are from in or around Naples itself. Meaning top quality produce which is then cooked by experienced Italian Chefs.

The Wandsworth branch does have a slight chainy feel about it – modern, fresh decor, lots of seating and reasonably priced food. We arrived and started by heading upstairs for the monthly Rossomusica evening, which is held once a month. £10 gets you live entertainment, an aperol spritz and some delicious Ferrarelle water (which has a light fizz and is very refined) – plus an aperitivo style all you can eat buffet. A bargain if you ask me. After taking in some music, sipping on delicious drinks and a light nibble we decided we were a little hungrier so took ourself down to the main restaurant.

Starting with a snack (a whole pizza) we had the classic Margherita – executed perfectly. Only pizzaioli – Italian pizza chefs who come from pizzaioli families are used in the restaurant and you can definitely tell. A wood fired, extremely light pizza topped with a fresh tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and fragrant olive oil. I was shocked, and couldn’t understand why other chains can’t do this, it’s a steal at £7.95 and the quality is exceptional. I can’t wait to try another more adventurous at some point.

Moving on to our extremely large sharing starter, which was one of the specials. Consisted of fresh buffalo mozzarella, which was excellent. Tomato bruschetta, which again was very nice and so was the thick bread it was served on – but I just didn’t think they went well together, I like something thinner and toasted. Olives were fresh and nutty while the prosciutto ham was again quality driven, but lacked in full flavour. A good starter and posed a very good buy – especially against the delicious, if not rather unusual Falanghina wine – a perfect match to olives I thought.

Why nearly every evening i put myself through the pain of eating so much food is beyond me – I’m ordering an Indian takeaway as we speak from my local – which is very good – for a take away, but more on that another time. The waitress serving us was absolutely excellent – Italian and very passionate. She said her favourite main was Baccala, so of course I had to try it. A cod fillet, pan fried with black olives and capers in a cherry tomato sauce – plus a little bread on the side. The fish was cooked well with nice crispy skin and the sauce was sweet, but a little sour at the same time, unlike anything i have had before. Extremely delicious – but it is an acquired taste. The grilled bread was perfect for mopping up the juices.

Main of Braciola, which was beef stuffed with pecorino cheese, pine nuts and raisins all stewed in a incredibly rich tomato sauce which was outstanding, and very concentrated. It’s the kind of sauce i have been attempting to create at home, but something which has been proving very unsuccessful. The filling was nice, but not very strong and the meat was a little overcooked. Crispy potatoes with rosemary were very nice. The sauce was the star to this dish.

Simple things such as a side salad of rocket, tomato and pecorino were excellent. Sweet, firm, juicy cherry tomatoes, with crumbly pecorino and very potent peppery rocket.

Moving on to desserts, I again went for the waitresses favourite. Limonello, Limoncello flavoured buffalo ricotta cake. Served in a small jar, the dessert is similar in texture to that of a creme caramel with a creamy, milky flavour and topped with the limoncello liquid topping. All in all very tasty, but personally it wasn’t for me – i’m not a big fan of creme caramel (sorry).

The classic tiramisu got a modern twist – covered in warm nutella sauce. It sounded revolting, but to my surprise, its was very good. Moist layered sponge with a subtle coffee flavour was very rich, thick and traditional. The nutella sauce added nuttiness and a warmth to the dessert, it also made it the most calorific tiramisu i’ve had in awhile.

Overall our meal at Rossopomodoro was a rather unexpected one – for a chain restaurant I was expecting, predictable, unexciting food. But to our surprise we were adorned with traditional food, with well source ingredients, passionate staff and an excellent atmosphere – Rossopomodoro should be an example to Italian restaurant chains in London, without a doubt.


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