Well loved locally, Red Pepper’s ground floor can get crowded (best to book in advance), and while cosy is nice, waitresses brushing past your arm is less so. Thankfully, a big window fills the space with daylight, reflected by large mirrors hung on burgundy walls to brighten the mood. There’s extra breathing space in the basement, where you can watch chefs at the wood-burning pizza oven. Pizzas dominate the short menu, which also includes a handful of pasta and risotto dishes.
The specials board majors on seafood – mackerel, swordfish and langoustines were all offered on our visit. A new addition to the regular menu is ‘Italian tapas’: downsized starters, such as bruschette and ‘frittatas’, the latter baked bite-sized morsels of spaghetti with pieces of courgette and mozzarella bound together with egg. These may well have been created as an economical way to deal with leftover pasta, but their crispy texture and simple flavours work.
The pizzas are crisp and authentic; the asparagi is a ‘white pizza’ with rich fior di latte, parmesan, a few pieces of asparagus and fresh chillies that pack a punch. Even spicier is the aptly named diavola, containing piquant Italian salami as well as chillies.