Pomodoro Ristorante, 12 High Street, Hornsey
I don’t often imagine myself on death row – but when I sit in Pomodoro Ristorante, it’s a subject that often crops up.
Not because I feel condemned to some hideous fate when I sit in here – no, no, no, nooo… but because the food is SO good I am 99.9% decided that if ever faced with the question “what would you like as your last ever meal on this earth?” I would say “tomato garlic pizza bread and fusilli putanesca, aargh, no, the the spaghetti alla pescatora from Pomodoro Ristorante on Hornsey High Street, please”.
Oh my god. (Warning: lots of upper case letters and exclamation marks coming…)
Just thinking about the food in this blink-‘n’-you’ll-miss-it little place is making me dribble all over my keyboard.
First things first, a bit of back story: Julian and I discovered this place in January. During a snow storm. On a Sunday night after the shops had closed their doors. The only reason we walked in was because posh takeaway Tiffin Tin, next door, was shut.
So Pomodoro Ristorante it was. “Shall we try it?” we asked gingerly of one another, not holding out much hope for its wares, due to its humble, unassuming exterior. The freezing cold and our empty larder forced us in.
The next hour was a carb-tastic, tongue-tingling, cockle-warming revelation.
We shared a garlic tomato pizza bread for starters and almost fell off our chairs with delight on the first bite – fresh, gooey dough; fresh, sweet tomato; and garlic, loads of garlic, tasting 100% as good as garlic SMELLS. Who knew!
I had the fusilli puttanesca – a highly generous portion of twirly pasta with the richest, tastiest anchovy, tuna, tomato, garlic and caper sauce I ever did put in my mouth. It is SO fine that I had it as my main course the next 23 times we went back. Julian had spaghetti vongole – pasta with clams and chilli and garlic, which he had the next 14 times we went back before starting to get more experimental.
As you can probably tell, we’ve been back a few times. The place is like crack (I’ve never had crack but I’ve heard). We’ve taken to having to limit our visits because we’re in danger of ending up there twice, maybe three times, a week. It’d be okay if this was some spacious gastro pub – kind of – but it’s an intimate restaurant with about 30 covers and a regular waitress-and-chef team who must think we’re mad. Or bad cooks. Or obsessed with them. (We are).
Since January, J and I have got round to trying lots of different main course dishes, though NEVER would we stray away from the garlic tomato pizza bread for a starter – even though those calamari and anti-pasti plates look amaazing.
J’s done the fusilli pollo e funghi (delish chicken and mushroom pasta) and his new dish of choice is seafood risotto with saffron. He emits little gasps of pleasure all the way through, and I can testify, after nicking some, that it is indeed a mouthwatering delight. So easy to get risotto wrong. I rarely order it in the poshest of restaurants. But this… this? Well if it weren’t for my new favourite, I’d have it every time.
I’ve become obsessed with the seafood spaghetti in a rich, buttery tomato and garlic sauce – so juicy, so wet, so stuffed with fresh, delicious seafood, including perfectly de-veined king prawns, that it makes me want to do a little bit of opera singing. I also tried the sea bass dish with roast potatoes and veggies, recently – so good! Everything on this menu is so good, though, that you’re in danger of sticking to the dish that is SO GOOD and never trying anything else.
To top it all off, it’s CHEAP. A bottle of white wine, tomato pizza bread to share (4 juicy slices each), seafood risotto with saffron and seafood spaghetti comes to less than £30. The portions are big! AND you always get a seat because it’s undiscovered!
So now I feel a bit funny writing about it, in case people read about it and try it, and we suddenly turn up one night and can’t get in. That’s not even worth thinking about actually. But then, then… I guess if it got really popular then it would never shut. Which means we could keep eating garlic tomato pizza bread and seafood pasta and risotto three times a week for the rest of our lives.
Which I suppose is a good enough reason to share this special secret.