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Spaghetti House (Restaurant)

Picture of Spaghetti House in Mayfair, London

12 Woodstock Street, Mayfair, London, W1C 2AF
Cuisine: Italian
Tel: 020 7408 0648 | Email to Spaghetti House | Transport: Bond Street | Write review

Spaghetti House Review

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Best for: Cheap authentic Italian food; sharing dishes.

Great: Service; central London shopping location.

It's 1975 and one hostage has escaped, leading to the immediate space outside the building being cordoned off and police surrounding the area. Locked inside a basement storeroom for five dreary September days, nine Italians survive by consuming stocks. There are worse places than Spaghetti House to be taken hostage. Checking out the menu, I'm pretty certain I could find more than enough dishes to keep me variedly fed for five days, possibly longer.

I'm not dining in the famous ‘Spaghetti House Siege’ Knightsbridge branch of this family-run company, but I am in one of its newest, conveniently located restaurants of the Spaghetti House chain just off Oxford Street. As a bit of a food snob, I expect the worst from chain restaurants but the menu certainly surprises with many authentic Italian dishes, ranging from pastas to pizzas to ‘La Griglia’.

As one vegetarian and one firm meat-eater we dismiss the possibility of re-enacting that cutesy spaghetti scene in Disney's Lady and The Tramp, although the idea of ordering large bowls of pasta, grill plates to share, and gigantic desserts does appeal. Tempted by the interesting Zuppe, my inner man takes control and I eventually settle on a Antipasto Contadino; a hearty, beautifully presented, wood board of Parma ham, salame felino, mortadella, buffalo mozzarella and sundried tomatoes.

My guest, Oli, shrieks in delight as she recognises a dish she loves but rarely sees and swiftly orders chunky polenta chips dusted with Parmesan, accompanied by spicy tomato salsa. Equally, this doesn't disappoint but enemies of spice should be warned: the salsa has an unforgiving kick.

Our chatty waiter, Fabio from Aberdeen, helpfully recommends a popular Pinot Grigio and keeps us entertained between courses, telling us personal anecdotes reminiscent of an awkward sitcom. We learn of his true Italian source, the arguments he used to convince his wife to leave Aberdeen, his cooking skills, his current ailment, and his forgotten medication. Perhaps a little over-attentive, Fabio puts us on our best behaviour and, already a tad full, we happily accept his wise suggestion of a break between courses, desperately trying to stop munching on the delicious breads temptingly left on the table.

We're impressed by the ample space left between tables; something incredibly rare in chain restaurants. A mahogany bar area fronts the dining space, concealing a till much like the ‘Spaghetti House Siege’ robbers would have been targeting. Black and white photos equidistantly cover the walls, favouring shots of Venice over historical reminders of the chain's infamous past. It's the wallpaper behind that we're both admiring: a slightly eerie nightmare pattern of doll-like heads in various states. It's fairly empty for a Thursday night but we're told weekday lunches and weekends are Spaghetti House's busiest time so are happy not to judge, although we're still not sure who Spaghetti House is targeting.

Noting the inoffensive Italian easy-listening music, our mains arrive and we plead with Fabio to remove the distracting breadbasket. Oli's gone for the special - bizarrely cheaper than the regular sea-bass menu option - while I've chosen Spaghetti House's most unusual pasta dish, a sumptuous combination of parmesan, pear, amaretti, beef, pork, cavolo nero cabbage and sausage.

Moments after finishing, Fabio returns with his customary fast service and offers up the dessert menu. As an enormous pannacotta fan, my decision is instantaneous. Oli, however, is struggling to decide whether she can feasibly eat anything else but eventually falls back on “ice-cream is less filling” logic. We round off our delicious feast with Limoncello that transports me to the pizza houses of Florence and gives Spaghetti House an authentic feel.

Held hostage by our rounded bellies, we find it difficult to leave and instead chat to Edyta, a friendly blonde Polish waitress who's worked in the restaurant for two years, having moved from the St Martin's branch. Gushing about Spaghetti House, she's clearly very passionate about her job and describes staff as “like family”. With 500-600 customers a day, many of whom are tourists, Edyta fondly picks out her regulars, some who have followed staff from one branch to the next, possibly oblivious of the chain's media notoriety.

Don't be fooled by the ill-chosen name or misleading exterior décor that makes Spaghetti House sound like a cheap canteen or soulless but adequate Bella Pasta/Cafe Rouge equivalent. In actuality, the staff give Spaghetti House plenty of heart, the reasonably priced food far exceeds expectations, and it's really not a bad place to hole up. OK, we haven't managed a five day stint but we are definitely tonight's longest staying customers and are almost the last two to leave. Wandering out into London's heart, I wonder whether the hostage who suffered Stockholm Syndrome was the ringleader's head chef – the creation of such delicious dishes resulting in an unbreakable hostage-captor bond? more

Customer Reviews for Spaghetti House

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Spaghetti House.

“Great central restaurant for fast service and cheap quality food.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Hanna Jenkins, London (8 years 4 months 29 days ago)

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Breaking with tradition in style but not in quality, the menu is modern Italian with traditional ‘home favourites’. Whilst pasta and stone-baked pizza remain popular, there is a large choice of fish and meat dishes, as well as hearty and healthy salads. This simple but authentic Italian menu only uses genuine, high quality fresh ingredients. Nothing is bought frozen and all dishes are freshly prepared every day from fresh ingredients. Even the bread is baked fresh twice a day before service in the traditional manner.

Updated 25/01/2008

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