Thursday, July 17, 2008

Santa Lucia, Chelsea

An original plan to visit Sophie's Steakhouse had to be written off: it was just too busy and only had one vegetarian option.  Wine Gallery was similarly packed and again had limited veggie appeal (eating out as a vegetarian can be hard and boring I have noticed).  Therefore we wandered across Hollywood Road and into Santa Lucia.  What a happy chance.

The six of us were seated immediately at a great table, despite having no reservation.  It felt just like being on holiday on Italy - authentic and relaxed but with crisp starched linen and excellent service.  The friendly staff brought menus over and happily provided tap water in large jugs.  

To begin we had two portions of their delicious garlic bread - more than enough for us all.  It was made from a thin circular pizza base topped with a light garlicky oil - not greasy and incredibly moreish.  Two of my friends had pizza which was served as one long metre length - half for each diner and presented on a wooden stand.  It was thin crust with fabulous fresh toppings.  They were delighted.  The pasta dishes were divine.  My rigatoni mamma mia consisted of giant pasta tubes, cooked al dente with five big homemade meatballs in a simple tomato and garlic sauce.  It was fabulously simple.  The seafood linguine was a sight to behold - atop with huge mussels, the pasta was full of fat prawns and squid.  Diane declared it delicious.  Both vegetarians chose the same - penne with a tomato sauce with aubergine and mozzarella.  The mozzarella sat on top of the dish, the size of an egg and both diners said it was beautiful.
I have run out of adjectives for the food - it was just simple, well done Italian fare.

The service too was great - I didn't notice it, yet wanted for nothing which is, of course, perfect.  Unusual requests such as removing the parmesan from the vegetarian mains and adding two extra toppings to a pizza were carried out without fuss.  Wine was refilled, as was water, without question.  The bill came with a complimentary biscotti.  I have made myself hungry again just writing this.  Needless to say, we will all go back.

One course, garlic bread and half a bottle of wine: £22 per head

Value: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Food: 8/10

SCORE: 32/40

Santa Lucia, 2 Hollywood Road, London, SW10 9HY.  Tel: 020 73528484.

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