With its faded awning and ramshackle roadside terrace seating, you might not give Donna Margherita a second glance. It’s an unprepossessing location, despite the proximity of Battersea Arts Centre. Then again, you might note that the place is remarkably buzzy; on a sunny day the terrace is often packed. Wander in, order the eponymous pizza, and all will be clear.
Gabriele Vitale and his brothers take great Neapolitan pride in the warmth of their native land’s cuisine, importing essential ingredients from Naples and crafting wood-fired oven pizzas (and cones, and calzones) to rival any in London, with terrific, chewy but bubbly and charred-edge sourdough crusts. There’s also a wide-ranging restaurant menu, with dishes served in generous measure; we had trouble doing justice to a terracotta potful of ‘O’gnocc o furn’ with its tomato-doused dumplings coated in a blanket of smoked provola cheese and buffalo mozzarella. Pink-roast pork loin with fat ceps (bottled, but flavourful) was deftly executed. Menabrea beer and simple but sound wine by the glass provided apt accompaniment.
Ices and sorbets are the safest dessert options, though excellent oak-aged grappa may prove an irresistible conclusion. Animated Italian families, locals and young professionals clearly appreciate the authentic food, warmth and internal decor; with your back to the road you might be in a backstreet trattoria in Naples.