Princi in Wardour Street has been evolving nicely over 4 years. It never needs to shout about itself in the press, as the hordes of switched on Italian tourists and media folk create buzz aplenty, against the continuous gentle chaos, day and night.
The partnership of Alan Yau and the boutique Milanese baker Rocco Princi is pure genius, and I have written previously about its origins here. However, it has taken a while for the premises to reach its full potential. It was about 2 years before a menu appeared on the wall, so no one ever quite understood the system, and until now the wood fired bread oven took up a whole window of prime ground floor retail space which was alarming to a profit-minded consultant like me. But from a customer’s viewpoint, it has always been one of my favourite places to visit.
Over the 4 years Rocco has obviously taken care of the most lavish and tempting patisserie display in London, while Alan in his inimitable way with his team, has created a classy but joyful atmosphere, from the background tinkle of piped water, to the carefully chosen cool and relaxed music, and friendly staff. It is hard to feel anything but well-being after a visit.
Three weeks ago, the wood-fired bread oven in the window metamorphosed into a pizza oven, and the Claudio Silvestrin fit out was extended into an area with full table service. The food for this is mostly produced from a simple open kitchen area in front of the oven.
For Sunday brunch today I had 2 perfectly poached free range eggs, a generous pile of smoked salmon, well dressed rocket with toasted Princi sourdough (£9). This was attentively accompanied by pink Himalayan sea salt. My companion chose the Neapolitan DOC (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata) pizza with buffalo mozzarella, ripe juicy tomatoes and basil (£8.50), and pronounced it delicious.
Sitting at the bar counter made from brass zinc alloy (my favourite surface to eat from), and watching the passers-by on Wardour Street looking enviously in, I thought about whether to have a strawberry millefoglio or ricotta cheesecake which I knew were temptingly displayed on the counter, but resisted this time.
On our way out, past the stylishly stacked boxes for pizza takeaways, I collected my usual half Princi sourdough loaf, and listened to the gentle hum of contented chatter in the café and at the counter. The picture is now complete. Princi has now come of age.
135 Wardour Street
London W1F 0UT
Tel: 020 7478 8888