As a lover of Italian food, I was eager to try a relatively new restaurant to hit the London dining scene, Porcino Restaurant. Located on Hyde Park, the contemporary casual decor is well suited for this intimate little bistro.
Although we made reservations for 6:00pm early in the week, it took 40 minutes for our table of four to be seated. Reservations for me are like an unwritten contract between a restaurant and their patrons. I respect your time, so I arrive on time – you should respect my time, and have my table ready for when I arrive. A delay of 5-10 minutes is one thing, but 40 minutes is not acceptable. Not sure if our reservation was misplaced, or the restaurant does a poor job of managing their tables, but this is something that needs to be addressed as I have seen similar concerns expressed in other Porcino reviews. And when an error like this does occur, a nice gesture by top restaurants is to comp a bottle of wine or your dessert. Showing your customers that you truly value their time goes a long way to bringing them back again.
Now on to something a little more positive, the food! Porcino offers casual Italian fare like pizza, pastas, salads and panini sandwiches. On this night, we sampled the Baby Spinach Salad featuring Glazed Pecans, Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese, Poached Pears and Raspberry Dressing, and the Caesar Salad with Romaine Hearts, Homemade Croutons and Lemon Garlic Dressing. The Spinach Salad was very tasty – always love that combination of salty/savoury blue cheese and sweet fruit and sugared nuts. I thought going with Rasberry Dressing was a bit odd – I prefer a less complicated dressing like lemon and oil on these types of salads. There’s already a lot going on with the various flavours. The Caesar Salad was solid, but not outstanding. A little too heavy with the dressing on this one.
I’m a big fan of Arancini, so I had to give this item a try too. Probably my favorite dish of the night. Beautiful crust on the risotta balls, and the mascarpone cheese and sweet pea filling was creamy and very flavourful. The tangy meat sauce went very well with the other flavours – generous portion size too. Highly recommended.
For our main courses, we went with a couple pizzas and a couple pastas. The very flavourful Quattro Stagioni pizza featured Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Artichoke, Olive, Capicola and Mushrooms, and the Fungi pizza featured Mixed Mushrooms, Fontina Cheese and Truffle Crema – also a very tasty pie. Love this style of pizza – thin crispy and bubbly crust that lets the toppings take center stage. Well priced for the size and quality. Our table also tried the Seafood Linguini featuring a very generous selection of Mussels, Calamari, Shrimp and Scallops in a Tomato White Wine Herb Sauce, and the Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Porcino Mushroom Cream Sauce, Truffle Oil and Parmesan Shavings. Our server was nice enough to mention that the ravioli dish is somewhat small, but very rich and satisfying. It was very delicious and the perfect size for our dinner companion.
Not a lot in terms of desserts at Porcino. We were in the mood for some crème brûlée, but were told – sorry, we ran out yesterday. Not sure why this dish wasn’t replenished a full day later – but alas, dessert was not meant to be, so we settled on coffee and espresso. Overall, Porcino has potential to be a solid neighbourhood haunt in an area that could use a restaurant just like this. For now, back to the cage.