Editors's note: In April 2021 it was reported that, due to an issue with the landlord, that Vasco & Piero Pavilion will not reopen after the Covid pandemic lockdown in the winter of 2021, at least not on its current site. It duly reopened on 19th October 2021 at 11 D'Arblay St, London W1F 8DT.
Vasco and Piero’s Pavilion is a Soho institution, serving Umbrian food since 1971 (and at the current address since 1989). This is not a place that you go to stretch out: the tables are tiny and packed together. At one point in the evening every table was taken, but they somehow squeezed in and laid a fresh table adjacent to the bar for some new diners. The two page wine list ranged in price from £17.50 to £135. Falesco Est Est Monte Fiascone 2011 was £28 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £8, Villa Russiz Pinot Grigio Collio Gorizia 2010 was £46.50 for a wine that retails at £14, and Tignanello 2008 was £135 for a wine that can be purchased for £52.
The menu was quite traditional. We began with tuna carpaccio and avocado salad (£10.50), enlivened by red onions and a ginger-based dressing. Although a simple dish, this was very enjoyable, the avocado ripe, the dressing carefully balanced (14/20). Spaghettini with prawns (£10.50) featured accurately cooked prawns, pasta with good texture and a garlic sauce with a hint of chilli pepper (14/20).
I continued with home-made tagliatelle with Umbrian beef ragu (£10.50), the pasta excellent, the ragu enjoyably rich (easily 14/20). Sea bass (£19.50) was accurately timed, served with capers, tomato sauce and steamed vegetables (14/20). Desserts did not quite maintain the standard of the savoury courses. Nectarine compote (£6.50) with vanilla ice cream was simple and pleasant, though nectarines are hardly at their peak in January (13/20). Tiramisu (£7.50) was pleasant but lacked the intense coffee flavour of the best versions of this Italian classic (13/20). Coffee was fine.
The bill came to £79 a head, which is hardly cheap but nor particularly excessive for central London. The service was friendly and efficient. Overall I liked this restaurant very much, the sort of neighbourhood Italian restaurant that everyone wishes was at the end of their road.