Stockwell Continental

Stockwell Continental (“SC”) has the kind of local, neighbourhood vibe that I love to find in restaurants in pockets across South London.  Whilst I say local, the food here is authentically Italian – Roman to be precise.  Although Neapolitan pizzerias have turned up in every corner of the capital – and don’t get me wrong, their chewy, sourdough crusts are immensely satisfying – it’s good to have a change.  Italy is, after all, a wonderfully diverse region.

At SC’s helm is Trish Hilferty of the Eagle (Farringdon), the Fox (Shoreditch) and her most recent solo venture The Canton Arms, a few doors down in Stockwell.  Alongside her is Jonathan Jones, whose pedigree includes St. John and his own more recent venture the hugely successful Waterloo gastropub The Anchor & Hope.  It’s no surprise that SC has such a stellar team behind it – this place, which had been on my list for so long now, did not disappoint.

Set in a prime spot on South Lambeth Road, the space is surprisingly large once you step inside.  There’s loads of natural light from original skylights and the kitchen is open, with a magnificent yellow pizza oven in the back corner.  The space is divided into the restaurant proper at the back and a more casual bar area at the front.  For an intimate date, I’d recommend sitting at the marble counter to watch the chefs work.  Also take a moment to appreciate the ornate floor tiles, too – a relic of the space’s former identity as Rebato’s, a Portuguese tapas restaurant which have been lovingly maintained.

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In the same way as the interiors are unfussy and stripped down, the menu is short and seasonal.  Whilst my companion and I were here for pizzas, next time I’d arrive earlier for aperitvo hour and enjoy their antipasta (featuring polenta, chickpea fritters, burrata) and pastas.  Speaking of polenta, to start my companion and I shared the Fried polenta, truffled honey and Pecorino (£6) to start which was probably the highlight of the evening for me.  The crispy exterior, the sweet-salty combination of truffle and pecorino, and the oozy interior made these bite-sized mouthfuls irresistible.  Sprinkled with a touch of black pepper, the seasoning was absolutely spot on.  It reminded me why honey and cheese make for such a quality pairing.  A very good opener.

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Onto the pizzas, the Roman variation is a lot crisper than the fluffy, chewy Neapolitan counterpart and the dough is made with olive oil; it’s stretched very thin then loaded with toppings which cover right up to the edges, rather than leaving that large crust which I usually dip into garlic oil and/or balsamic!  We shared the special of the day – Truffled Mascarpone, Oyster Mushroom, Broad Beans and Fior de latte (£15) – and another with Burrata, Tomato and Smoked Aubergine (£15).  Both pizza bianco and rosso were delicious.  The juxtaposition of the two alongside each other made for a well-chosen combination.  Whilst the truffled mascarpone pizza had a summery, seasonal quality with the strength of the otherwise over-powering truffle oil counter-balanced by the freshness of the greens, the burrata of the tomato pizza was deliciously creamy and oozing.  The smoked aubergine were also an untried surprise.  It’s just the kind of meal you need as a pick-me-up on a mid-week evening.

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SC is perfect for those looking for both style and substance, within a neighbourly setting.  I’m definitely keen on trying out the founders’ original pub ventures.

Stockwell Continental, 169 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1XW  

Website: https://www.stockwellcontinental.com/

Rating: ****

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