For an ever-expanding chain (there are now six branches in London, one in Birmingham and outposts worldwide from Spain to Saudi Arabia), this pizza and pasta joint bats well above average. The Notting Hill branch is a buzzy affair with exposed brickwork and bright wall canvases, populated by families and ladies who lunch (Italian signorinas on our last visit – a good sign). Antipasti are fresh and plump, be they satisfying polpettina (mini meatballs) or doughballs served with tomato sauce, basil and parmesan. Pasta is good, but pizza is most popular – authentically Neapolitan and generous in size.
Opt for a basic margherita or quattro formaggi or go posh with one of six specials – an afragolese of buffalo bresaola, mozzarella, rocket and parmesan; or fru fru, an oval-shaped three-season pizza with ricotta, parma ham and salami. Homely mains are no afterthought (think beef braciole stuffed with pecorino, pine nuts and raisins in a thick tomato sauce), while cut-above bulky salads (fresh tuna, grilled beef or chicken caesar) come well dressed. Ingredients, from the san marzano tomatoes to the extra-virgin olive oil, are Italian-imported, as is the nicely chilled Moretti.
The venue is genuinely kid-friendly too, without turning into a crèche; bambini get their own menu and there’s colouring-in to distract and mini portions of gelati for afters.