The Chelsea flower show is one of the brightest lights of the summer season. But a visit always gives rise to the problem of where to eat afterwards.
A good place to aim for is just across the King’s Road in Cale Street at Rufus Pucci Pizza. If the name sounds familiar it is because Pucci Pizza (run by Rufus’s father) was for many years the go-to place for pizza on the King’s Road. Being half-Italian and half-English, Rufus had the inspired idea of focusing his new restaurant on the most iconic dishes of those two nations: pizza and fish and chips. This combination is ideally suited to the light and airy dining room and gives a homely feel to this quintessential neighbourhood restaurant.
The food is well prepared, unfussy and wholesome. For starters we had tempura prawns and crispy calamari. The prawns’ flavour was enhanced by having been battered in light Italian beer Peroni. The result was delicious.
For our main course we choose the spaghetti carbonara and the catch of the day, which was sole. Rufus was in charge of preparing these dishes, as he explained that he did ‘the difficult stuff’ in the kitchen. It is always refreshing to know exactly who is cooking your food, and reassuring to find that they come out in person to check that all is well with your meal as it progresses.
The puddings include a wide range of home-made Italian style ice creams and a wonderfully authentic tiramisu. There are good Italian wines to be had by the glass and pricier alternatives if you are pushing the boat out. This is one of the few places in ‘smart’ London that you can eat stylishly presented home cooking for £35 to £45 a head.
The restaurant was buzzy and nearly full downstairs so you may need to book to avoid disappointment. There is a room upstairs which is bookable for parties and a promotion linked to the Wimbledon fortnight. So even if you didn’t make it to Rufus’s for the May blooms, I recommend that you try to get there for one of London’s later summer events.
Christopher Rees is a consultant at Taylor Wessing, London