Assaggetti, Piccadilly

Most of the places to eat round Piccadilly Circus are hideously touristy and unpleasant… but I have discovered the perfect restaurant to enjoy petite plates of food with a glass of Prosecco. My cousin and I needed a good gossip and catch up and found that Assaggetti suited the occasion well. Walking in (pretending to be) stylish ladies who lunch, we settled into our seats by the window and surveyed the menu of all star Italian dishes.

The philosophy at Assaggetti is simple, they offer light bites without compromising on taste, all at very affordable prices. Aesthetically it is an attractive modern eatery with accommodating oak tables.

We perhaps overdid it a bit on the ordering but I couldn’t help getting excited at the delicious sounding prospects. After a few sips of the fine bubbly Prosecco, I was ravenous, my taste buds encouraged by the garlicky smells wafting from the kitchen. My eyes widened as the platters arrived and I soon realised I was eating so fast my new white t-shirt from Beirut was seriously endangered by accidental meatball splattering. I slowed down and appreciated the range of vibrant ingredients.

Every dish is available in a small size, so the menu easily translates to a tapas style meal. If you like to taste a variety of different dishes it is ideal… I certainly enjoyed the concept of Italian tapas, and now feel I’ve tried about half the dishes on offer! We ordered a long list of plates to share: Prosciutto and rocket pizzettine (£5.50), meatballs (£3.25), baked aubergine and pesto (£3.75), zucchini fritti (£2.95) and mixed Tuscan salami (£4.75). It was a well balanced range: strong scrumptious cured meat and light wholesome pizza bread layered with thinly sliced tomato and creamy mozzarella. I noticed the immaculate seasoning – nothing needed anything extra, it was all beautifully prepared. If I HAD to choose two I would go with the addictive fritti and the delightful aubergine dish. The ultra thin and super crispy courgette chips were divine and lasted precisely sixty seconds, we hoovered them up. Soft, salty and very lightly battered they moreishly melt in the mouth. The aubergine was a classic Italian dish, using quality ingredients and baked gently, it was a lovely contrast between meaty aubergine and soft gooey cheese.

Mains are rather easier to choose as seafood makes up a large proportion the list. We chose small plates of goats cheese ravioli (£5.00), handmade spaghettoni & duck ragu (£4.75), Tuna tartare (£5.75) and Tomato and onion salad (£3.25). It sounds like a lot, but actually disappeared fairly quickly, to give you an idea each plate is about five mouthfuls. The pastas and salads worked well accompanying each other, I adored the tomato salad which was garden-fresh with crunchy red onion and drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The ravioli was covered in a surprisingly yellow sauce, creamy with a flavour I couldn’t quite identify. The filling was pleasant but average. The spaghetti was very thick and delicious, the duck ragu had a gorgeous rich and smoky taste.

The desserts on the menu are typically Italian, classic recipes that Assaggetti really excel in creating. The Tiramisu (£3.50) was insanely good, very creamy but miraculously light… I began to wonder why I have previously never liked this pudding. Wild Berry panna cotta was less inspiring but also very edible, simple indulgent vanilla panna cotta with a decent serving of fruity wild berry compote. Coffee completed the meal perfectly.

Assaggetti offers comfort food that feels healthy. In terms of a taste and quality vs price ratio, this restaurant ranks very high and I was impressed. This relaxed Italian eatery would be particularly good pre or post theatre as service is quick and uncomplicated and food is light but satisfying and most importantly, utterly delicious.

Visit the website here for more information.