Review: Vico, Cambridge Circus
Having stuck religiously to my new year’s diet for a full seven days, eating nothing more exciting than chickpeas and the occasional egg-white omelette, it’s hard to be objective about an evening which provided me with pizza, Prosecco, and ice cream all in one meal – but I can’t help feeling that had I arrived with a less gaping stomach and swimming head, my impressions of Vico might not have been quite as positive as the one with which I ultimately left.
Put a pin in the centre of a map of London, and it’d probably not end up too far from the meeting of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue; so Vico – a recently refurbished Italian restaurant situated right at the intersection of the two roads – could not really be better placed. The restaurant takes full advantage of its enviable setting by having at least three-quarters of its external walls made of glass, giving one the feeling of being in an enormous goldfish bowl, to be gawped at by passing tourists shuffling between The Rainforest Café and the West End theatres. Even with a tinkling fountain in the centre of the room, and fairy lights strung across the ceiling, the atmosphere left me cold – literally, as I spent the entire evening with my coat across my knees.
We started by sharing suppli – cheese-stuffed, deep-fried risotto balls – which can never be a bad thing, despite their unappealing exterior; and both chose to follow with the Parmigiana pizza, studded with aubergine and frosted with Parmesan. It was delicious: crisp base, gooey cheese, and soft vegetables. It was neither more nor less tasty than anything I’ve had in every Pizza Express, Bella Italia, or Zizzi I’ve ever been to; but for just £8.50 for an enormous pizza in the heart of the West End, it can’t really be faulted.
In the interests of research, of course we had to sample the desserts: between us we chose the lemon and almond cake with chocolate gelato, and the Rome sundae of rice gelato and strawberry sorbet. The cake was slightly dry, but its accompanying gelato may have been the best thing I tasted all evening: buttery, rich, and artery-clogging, with a hint of hazelnuts. The sundae was also excellent, with a scattering of puffed rice within the ice cream adding an interesting texture to smooth gelato. We scraped the plates clean (or at least, I did), and agreed that Vico may not be the most exciting restaurant in the world, it’s a good alternative to a chain restaurant any time you fancy an Italian – as long as you wrap up warm.
Reporter: Charlotte Couldrey ¦ @elfredabeetle
One Cambridge Circus