Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Donna Margherita, Battersea

Just in case I wasn't getting smug enough with the two excellent restaurants either end of my road (The Fox and Hounds and The Food Room), word on the street (well OK, on the internet) had it that some of the best pizzas to be had in London came out of an unassuming local Italian restaurant on busy Lavender Hill. I don't know if it's even possible to have a truly great pizza, a foodstuff which is after all only tomato and cheese on bread, and I suppose the best I usually hope for is that it isn't too oily and isn't too expensive. So once I found out that there was a chance I may have been missing out on a good thing, I eagerly made my way to Donna Margherita.

Unfortunately, I needn't have worried. Though not exactly bad, my pizza - a Diavola - was just very dull, the kind of thing you could get in more or less any bog standard Italian restaurant in the capital. The dough was slightly tough, but with the odd crispy burned bubble to give a pleasant bit of texture. The fresh basil was a nice touch, and the chilli oil wasn't too overpowering and overall the mixture had just the right balance of sweet tomato and salty cheese. More than once I've been served a pizza so groaning with cheese it was like eating a huge flat fondue, so in this respect I suppose they're doing something right. Overall though, the effect was desperately underwhelming. We had been told to order the garlic bread, so we did, and this was nice enough with little crispy bits of fried rosemary and basil on top, albeit with the same tough dough. I wasn't exactly in raptures.

I only wish I could have said the same about my companion's meal, but his seafood pizza was not just disappointing in flavour but an actual health and safety hazard. You see, the chefs in their wisdom thought it would be a nice presentational flourish to keep the mussels in their shells as a topping on the pizza. And indeed at first glance it did look quite impressive, arranged as they were amongst squid tentacles and a scattering of shredded basil. But under the fierce heat of the pizza oven the mussel shells had burned and splintered alarmingly, so much so that every mouthful of pizza required a careful dissection in case any of the razor sharp fragments made their way into your mouth and shredded your gums. Less a meal and more a culinary minefield, I'm afraid the question of whether he could recommend Donna Margherita pizzas was answered with a definite "Dear God, no".

However, all is not lost. Just a couple of doors down from Donna Margherita on Lavender Hill is a little takeaway place called Basilico. There's no eat-in option but they do deliver, and having sampled a few items on their menu there is only one I keep coming back to - the Pizza Funghi au Truffle, topped with generous amounts of lovely big salami and drizzled with truffle oil. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it was great, but it is certainly very good, and with very little danger of physical injury. Basilico has 5 branches scattered around London, and the Pizza Funghi au Truffle in particular comes highly recommended.

Donna Margherita 4/10
Basilico 7/10

Donna Margherita on Urbanspoon


Gabriele vitale said...

well i`m sorry that you came in that night because our pizza is nothing near the one that you have on your picture and is a real shame that you comparing our product with the one of basillico bat hi what can i say!if you like basillico kip up with it we never open the door with hopping to close them dawn bat definitely to educate peapol whoth pizza really is
and sorry again for that night because as we are human been we do make mistake and that pizza is nathhing near our standard!!!!!!!!!!sorry again

Chris said...

Gabriele - you're the first person connected with any of the reviews I've ever written that's ever given any feedback, so thanks very much for your comment!

I take everything you say on board, and I'm sure the meal I had (all those months ago now) wasn't your best. I promise to visit again soon and give you another go (you're only at the top of my road).

However, I will also say that the Basilio truffle pizza is lovely :)

Gabriele said...

Ok chris when will you cam back so we might have a chance to impress you so i do not see this any more and perhaps i will see a better opinion regarding our pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gabriele said...

Dear Chris

I appreciate your comments left about your night with us and as I have explained on your personal blog unfortunately this is pizza for us was not the best. For this I can only apologise and we would welcome you to come back to see us again. I am more than happy to show you how in Napoli a traditional pizza is made. In Italy there are two types: pizza base and Focaccia base pizza and we stand by our traditional methods the Napolitan way. It makes me unhappy to know that your writing about us in a negative way, we would like to see you at our restaurant again so we can show you that we are only human and occasionally mistakes are made. Then hopefully you will have a better understanding of how the restaurant runs and the food is prepared by traditional methods and your view of us hopefully will be different?

Let me know when you would like to visit

Warm Regards

Gabriele Vitale

Chris said...

Gabriele: Well, I have to admire your tenacity! Please email me at cpople@gmail.com and we'll sort something out.

Gabriele said...

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!