There's something to be said about the comforting nature of the familiar. Especially at Christmas - you know exactly what you want to eat and you have been planning it for the past three months - pigs in blankets, anyone? So, if it is pizza and innumerable Italian delights that are tickling your family's tastebuds, then Prezzo is one of the obvious, and most family-friendly, reliable choices.
Yes, Prezzo. One of the UK's largest Italian chain restaurants with over 200 strings to it's British bow. You'll find them in unique locations from old libraries to harbourside dining. Since the explosion of high quality independent restaurants and pop ups around the country, 'chain restaurant' is becoming much more of a feared quantity. But rest assured, the quality at Prezzo is akin to a 'local', but with a menu that blurs those county boundaries. Picky eaters that we are, we decided to trial the 'Christmas menu' at Prezzo, to see if it could pass the anti-chain taste test...
So, whats on the menu?
Mama mia! The first 'problem' we encountered was a delicious one - there was just too much choice. We opted for the Premium menu of three courses and a glass of Prosecco (well, when in Rome). And in the name of fair testing, we ordered three of the starters to share. Golden crispy, deep fried mozzarella with pomodoro sauce, bruschetta and garlic pizza bread. The devil is in the detail, as the bruschetta was served on a toasted flatbread, with a stack of fresh tomatoes, handmade pesto, red onion and fresh basil scattered on top. Much more preferable to any crispy French bread incarnation you might expect.
We ate at the Mayfair branch of Prezzo, on the corner of Hertford and Down Street. It was one of the very first locations to open in the UK, and sets the standard for others to follow. The manager came to our table and chatted with us about the history of the medieval styled building (it really is a must-see), and mentioned that they are very busy with local people who frequent the restaurant. It is cosy, clean, atmospheric and yet still roomy - with plenty of space for a pram to navigate around or to have a highchair at the table.
Back to Christmas dining at Prezzo: there isn't a gaping divide between the 'classic' and 'premium' menus - it is all down to what you fancy. Both are served with a glass of Prosecco (the alcohol part obviously just for anyone over 18). We both chose pizzas from the Premium menu: I went for the VIPosh Pepperoni pizza from the Premium while my dining partner chose the VIPizza Queen Margherita. The Pepperoni lived up to it's 'posh' credentials with a generous helping of pepperoni, prosciutto ham, calabrese sausage, rocket, gran padano cheese and warming roquito chill peppers. And the VIP Margherita was unusual in it's creamy toppings portioned in three sections – sunblushed and cherry tomatoes; asparagus, spinach and basil pesto dressed rocket leaves; béchamel sauce and buffalo mozzarella. While we would like to consider ourselves 'bottomless pits' the sheer size of the pizzas did defeat us, but, not wanting to waste such a fine pizza, we were able to get them boxed up. "That'll taste even better tomorrow" - so we were told, and she was right, it made an even tastier lunch the next day.
As any food lover will know, you always have room for pudding. And, this being an Italian Christmas feast, we couldn't turn down the opportunity to try desert. We plumped for the smashed honeycomb cheesecake and the amaretto brioche bread and butter pudding. It might be a matter of personal preference, but we found the brioche pudding a little heavy after having downed so many carbs in the first two courses - but we polished off the sweet cheesecake, washed down with the rest of our Prosecco.
Children are welcome to dine from the Christmas menu, but it may prove a little large for smaller tummies. We would recommend the children's menu, which is extensive and separated into 'Kids' (aged 5-11) and 'Tots' (aged up to 5). Kids too can order (among other things) the bruschetta or the mozzarella, a calzone or chicken salad and the world's most tempting-sounding desert, a Nutella and banana mini calzone for pudding. Everything comes in mini for the 'Tots', from garlic bread and cheese and tomato pizza to ice cream scoops. And for drinks, why not treat the kids to a Bambinoccino - frothy milk with milk chocolate flakes on top.
A happy Christmas, indeed.
Classic menu at lunch - 2 courses with a glass of Prosecco, £17.95
Classic menu - 3 courses with a glass of Prosecco, £17.95 at lunch / £19.95 at dinner
Premium menu with a glass of Prosecco, £24.95 per person
Book and view all the Christmas and children's menus online at Prezzo
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