|Trattoria Mondello, Goodge Street, London. Photo Credit: Steve Bowbick on Flickr.|
Even before tasting the food in Mondello’s, we could tell we’d make a good choice. Situated on Goodge Street, this cosy Italian feels like you’re eating at a family friend’s house. A family friend who happens to be a very good cook.
Although slightly old-fashioned, the rustic décor is immediately inviting. Wooden booths line the wall, with smaller wooden tables in the middle that can be rearranged to suit group sizes. The walls are decorated with murals and the specials chalked slightly haphazardly on the board at the end of the restaurant, tempting you with delicious sounding food. It’s not going to win any design awards, but it was cosy and unassuming and perfect for the sort of food served here.
But even more welcoming than the décor are the family who run the restaurant. A lovely Italian couple, they joked and chatted with us just enough for us to feel like they were really paying attention to us and appreciating our custom without at all intruding on the meal. Service was relatively quick, but we never felt like we were being hurried or rushed out as you can do at some many central London restaurants at lunch (admittedly they weren’t full, but we were taking up a lot of space).
The only problem is that their menu, full of classic Italian dishes (pasta, pizza, meat and fish), is huge. All of us found we had too many options to choose between before even finishing half of it!
In the end, though, I went for the meat cannelloni. I think I may have gotten a bit of menu blindness, as I often steer clear of bolognaise-based food in restaurants. Firstly because it can be a bit bland, and secondly because I’ve been spoilt by my Grandma’s bolognaise; renowned for being pretty sensational among our family, its exceptional flavour is rarely matched elsewhere. But I needn’t have worried. The sauce was lovely and rich, with just the right amount of sauce to be creamy without overpowering the dish. Served in the oven dish it had been cooked in, some of the food had crusted onto the side. Not only was this also really tasty, but I thought it really adding to the home cooking feel. Overall I think it possibly even rivalled Grandma F’s. And even better, it cost just £7.50.
The only slightly odd thing about our meal was the pasta special of sausage in tomato sauce. Instead of the sausage being mixed in with the pasta, it was placed around the outside in large chunks – more sausage with pasta as a (large) side. Not quite what what we’d expected! Apparently it was still good, but not quite as appealing as it had sounded when described and probably not worth the extra price compared to the standard menu pasta dishes. However the other food we tried, including chicken, pizza and plenty of pasta, all went down very well – great food, excellent portion sizes.
Although we didn’t try pudding ourselves, we got to salivate over them plenty. The owners bring round a dessert trolley (retro!) so you can ‘pick your own’ (and so they can tempt fellow diners like us in the process). They all looked incredible, a decent size and an even better better price – all except one cost £3-£4. I can’t say we weren’t very tempted.
Our bill came to £10 each including service and a bottle of red wine (although this bottle was shared between quite a few people so it would probably cost a little more with a smaller group). Still, I think even with two courses and a drink, or three courses, you could probably eat for under £20. From our experience I’d say that it’s probably best to stick to the main menu rather than splashing out on the specials, but overall it was a really great experience – I’d definitely like to go back, if only to pick something off the dessert trolley. The perfect place for affordable, tasty, traditional Italian in a friendly, unpretentious setting in the heart of London.
*You might notice that their experience of Mondello’s unfortunately didn’t seem to be very good. However having looked on TripAdvisor and elsewhere, the positive reviews far outweigh the bad, making me more than happy to recommend this restaurant!