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.