Sometimes simple is best, and this little local joint in Maida Vale has been proving that for at least the last 16 years. It was the first restaurant I visited in London as an adult. And it’s turning out pasta every bit as good now, as it did then.
Delivering constantly good food is not nearly as simple as it sounds, and many restaurants fail this seemingly simple task. Here, the cooks – and there have been several changes in the kitchen over the years – always do the basics right.
On my last visit wild boar pappardelle came as a curling heap of rich yellow ribbons with just a hint of bite to them. Pieces of meltingly tender boar clung precariously to the pasta. The sauce was buttery and delicious.
Mrs Grubworm went for langoustine linguine in a tomato and orange sauce. The mellow citrus added both spritz and warmth without overwhelming the delicate sauce. Three meaty languortine were laid, perfectly cooked, over the heap of pasta.
Desserts were a good, but not great, pistachio and white chocolate bavarese (something like a pannacotta, but not as good) and a superb torta della nonna. The latter was a light custard tart sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. It was deceptively simple and summed up everything good about Italian desserts.
If you decide to visit, go for the pasta, because while the pizza is decent, the pasta is the main event. And at at around £11-£13 for a plate of home made joy, it’s an unexpected bargain. Sure the restaurant is a little crowded and it can get loud. But this is a proper neighbourhood locale, and the buz is fun.
The Red Pepper, 8 Formosa St, London, W9 1ST. Tel: 020 7266 2708 Web: www.theredpepper.net