In Review

Pucci restaurant review: a Mediterranean feast in the heart of Mayfair

Classic pizzas and Middle Eastern small plates make for a winning combination at this cosy newcomer

Pucci is one of Mayfair’s newest restaurants, opening its doors in November, but veteran London foodies will recognise the name.

King’s Road institution Pucci Pizza, run by Giuseppe Albanese until its closure in 2010, attracted the likes of Bryan Ferry and Grace Jones in its 1970s heyday.

With his latest venture, Albanese’s son Rufus has reimagined the iconic Chelsea hangout with a glamorous Mayfair sheen, most notably a menu which puts Middle Eastern-inspired small plates on an equal footing with the family’s famous pizzas.

We are welcomed by Rufus himself, a thoroughly jovial host, who assures us we are going to sample the best of what Pucci has to offer.

While the exposed brickwork, hanging lightbulbs and millennial fondness for houseplants evoke a trendy Brooklyn loft, a few retro touches  - banquette seating, pop art posters on the wall - act as a nod to the past.

More than anything, it feels cosy and informal, a far cry from most of its Maddox Street neighbours. Dean Martin croons unselfconsciously from the speakers.

First up, an array of starters, courtesy of head chef (and Rufus’s partner) Tilly Turbett. Rufus has already highlighted the homemade labneh - garnished with baby beetroot and chopped pistachios - as a point of pride, and a generous spoonful slicked over a slice of grilled bread instantly justifies the hype.

Parmesan and prosciutto ooze forth from two massive croquettes in an unctuous puree reminiscent of Dutch bitterballen.

It’s all intensely rich and creamy - even the charred tenderstem broccoli comes on a bed of tahini yoghurt. Luckily, an order of juicy padron peppers served with smoked salt just about keeps us afloat; as does the seabass crudo, each sliver thoughtfully garnished with blood orange and a single pink peppercorn.

After this abundance of riches, we could probably have comfortably called it a night - but we had a pizza each heading our way.

Our host has recommended the ‘nduja. A generous scattering of the fiercely-spiced sausage meat is interspersed mollifying mounds of burrata, and the whole sweetened with a generous drizzle of honey. It is, as Rufus says, an unlikely combination, but a winning one.

Firmly trad but no less delicious, the bresaola pizza is liberally adorned with unusually juicy slices of the Italian dry-cured beef and chunks of mouth-wateringly fresh mozzarella.

The pizzas’ ultra-thin crust - a family secret, naturally - makes them surprisingly easy to polish off, but dessert was by the now the furthest thing from our minds. Until we saw the pavlova.

Fresh summer fruits and cardamom-poached pear top a meringue which somehow manages to be both chewy and yielding. A concealed core of lemon curd proved the final delight in a dessert which will live on in this reviewer’s memory for years to come. 

Pucci, 39 Maddox Street, 02038874363, puccimayfair.com/

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