Quick Lunch at Princi

Princi
135 Wardour Street
London W1F 0UT
Website (London) / Website (Italy)
Map

Quick Monday lunch

princi log

A welcome splash of Italian flavor, design & vibe on Wardour street

I have been wanting to visit Princi since it opened a while back.  So, deciding there is no time like the present, I trekked over there today during my lunch break.

This latest venture of Alan Yau, which is a joint venture with its namesake Rocco Princi (who runs the Princi chain of bakeries/eateries in Milan), certainly looks impressive, even from outside.  It is a large, open and beautiful space, which oozes Italian style and flare.  On Monday at lunchtime, the place was buzzing, and the very long counter of food – starting with pastries, then deserts, then savories, then pizzas, then salads – was extremely appetizing and sexy.

Upon walking in, one of the (presumably) managers exclaimed ‘buon giorno’ as I walked down the counter, and I felt almost like I wasn’t in London.  After gazing over the various options, I opted for the salad bar.  You can get 1 or 2 of the salads on a large plate for £6.50 – so definitely not cheap.  My Italian server, who began conversing with me in her native language and soon realized I couldn’t keep up🙂, was very pleasant, and I choose the rucola (rocket), beetroot, walnut and gorgonzola & the endive, pear and parmesan salads.  At the last second, I decided that this might not quite fill me up and opted for a slice of margherita as well (£2.50 for a large rectangular slice).

She efficiently put everything together for me on a nicely designed wooden tray and I headed off through the sea of eaters to find a place to sit or stand (they have small, square raised tables that 2-4 people can stand at).  I found a spot at the counter along the wall, and dove in.

The beetroot salad was the clear winner for me: the vinaigrette was perfect (with a very high quality balsamic), and the gorgonzola was literally to die for…it was quite firm and not crumbly as you often get, and had a creamy richness to it with that good ol’ gorgonzola kick.  The rucola was also great: strong, slightly bitter and peppery.  The endive salad was very fresh too, and the combination of the bitter endive with sweet pear was definitely a winner.

Unfortunately, the pizza was less successful (which you wouldn’t expect from such a self-promotional bakery).  It was barely warm (granted, I probably should have asked for it to be put through their little rotating oven behind the counter), and while the dough was good quality, it was an average slice, and not particularly satisfying.

After finishing, I realized I had £3 left and figured, what the hell, and scoured the sweet section of the counter.  After much vacillation, I finally decided on the lemon chi…something (oops, forgot to write it down!), which was basically a tart base with a thick layer of egg whites infused with lemon.  I took it ‘to go’ and ate it in nearby Soho Square.  The desert was a little bit of a let-down if I’m honest.  The egg whites were a good texture and the pastry base was good, but the lemon flavor tasted slightly artificial to me – which would be weird, as the place is very in-your-face about how natural all of their ingredients and processes are.  Also, there were lots of fine granules of caster sugar around the base of the desert, which seemed a bit weird.  It left a not particularly nice lemon sorbet flavor in my mouth on the long walk back to the office.

Overall, my first impressions of Princi were very good, though.  It fits the bill in terms of design and presentation (both in terms of the interior design and the way the food looks).  The salads were great, and maybe the other pizzas were better, once warmed up (?).  The breakfasty pastries look very good (and I am not usually of fan of Italian croissants vs. their French counterparts), and the rest of the deserts certainly looked divine…I guess I’ll just have to go back and taste them!

Princi on Urbanspoon

7 thoughts on “Quick Lunch at Princi

  1. When I was reading this I thought this is exactly how I felt. I’ve actually been to Princi twice as I live close by and it serves food late. I love the buzz and atmosphere of the place – the staff is friendly, talkative…being an American I really miss the interaction between the service sector and consumer and I liked that the girl behind the counter wanted to chat for a second. Anyway – the food – I had dessert (Italian cheesecake) on my first visit – OK, but nothing to write home about. My husband had pizza – he loves the sicilian square pizzas and he was completely let down and vowed never to return.

    I decided to give it a second go just last week with a girlfriend. I was really happy with my salad – endive and apple I think…my friend had the beet salad which was equally as good. We had tiramisu and some chocolate cookies and both were disappointing, so much so that we each had 2 bites and shoved them aside.

    It’s such as shame the pizzas and desserts fall short because the atmosphere I love.

    • Well, what can I say, I sympathize! What a shame it doesn’t quite live up to what it projects. I will give it another few chances and see how it goes. I really want it to be good🙂. Maybe we both like the atmosphere because we are Americans living in London?

      By the way, many thanks for your comment! I’ve only just started this blog, and it’s always encouraging to see people are reading it! I will check out your blog too.

      All the best – LF

  2. While I am 99% sure I will never get to eat here, I enjoyed your review. It feels very sincere without be snitty!
    I would think that a place that touts freshness and quality ingrediants would have done better. I like to give a place a view tries before I write it off and then keep a listen for others that have gone there…maybe it will find a balance of quality in it’s foods in the future.

    • Many thanks for your comment DeliciosoMama. I totally agree with you – I will go back a few more times to see if I have prematurely judged anything too harshly…and of course will keep my ears open for what others have to say. Thanks for visiting my rather new blog – it is exciting to get comments from people. I will check out your site soon.

      All the best,

      LF

  3. I was gobsmacked to be charged £10 for 2 loaves of the freshly baked bread when I visited Princi, it was pretty great bread though, especially the olive loaf. I really liked the salad (avocado, chicken and apple) and the passionfruit cheesecake is a winner! I’ve heard many reports that agree with you about the pizza though.

    • Hmm…pretty pricey indeed. The salads are definitely good, and I will soon try another dessert…passionfruit cheesecake sounds good! Will also try the pizza once more just to make sure…in the name of research, of course😉

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