Lunch in Soho: Princi

Wednesday 28 July

Sited just south of the T junction that is Wardour Street and Broadwick Street is a not so little piece of Italy; There are so many Italian eateries, restaurants and cafes within and outside Soho and many are good.  But none is Princi. A joint venture between the Milanese paneterria of the name and Alan Yau has produced a palace of perfection in the heart of W1.

Before I go any further I must provide you with an hyperbole health warning.  The only reason I have not written of this magical food haven previously is because my admiration and passion for it is so strong.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you may look at it, these have not worn off and so….

Do you want to eat healthy, do you want to eat meat, do you want to eat veggie, have breakfast, or lunch, or tea or supper or just hang around for a coffee and a pastry, if so Princi is perfect, and open from 7 to Midnight Monday to Saturday with reduced Sunday hours.

But why such excitement?  Think back to your first really good cappuccino, your first real spaghetti al pomodoro con basilico. Think back to such previously unknown taste experiences and now let me tell you what you can eat.  Remember that when I mention dishes as apparently quotidian as a chicken Caesar or a pizza quattro formaggi the Princi salads and pizzas are nor ordinary salads or pizzas.

In essence Princi is an elegant old fashioned tavola calda with take away. So everything is for eating in or taking out.  When I write about the bread of Soho I will return to the loaf they call Pane Princi, a twelve inch diameter sourdough cooked where you can see in the wood burning oven.  Watching it being wrapped lovingly in the Prici bread wrapping paper is a pleasure in itself.  I will only write now that it is the best loaf in London.  I sneak it up on friends at dinners and it never fails to elicit admiration.  But if sourdough is not for you there is always rye, or German milk rolls, or best of all their olive stuffed grissini.

Then the pastries, a mixture of cultures but always suffused with Italian sensibility: cantucci (with and without chocolate) madeleines, cannoli siciliani brownies stuffed with walnuts, tiramisu cakes, and apricot crostata.

What I often eat is their large plate salad, made with ingredients you would believe were picked that morning on the Tuscan foothills, ten to choose from; I always leave to the servers to choose.

Or do you want hot food: sausage and potato, veal cannelloni, aubergine parmigiana, an iconic arancina in the shape of a pyramid.  And I have forgotten the pizza and the foccaccio facito.

For drinks there are wondrous coffees, Ferarrelle waters, San Pellegrino limonata and fresh juices: watermelon, mango, pear and pineapple.  There are even drinks I don’t know but will try: Gazzosa Lirisia, and Cedrata Lassoni.

It’s  busy even when the seating is on high stools at high tables, and even standing up.  It’s special because the Princi proprietors.know what good food is and deliver.  If you believe me then you will understand why it is so busy so much of the time.


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