182-184 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, London, SW6 2UF
Il Pagliacco is that rare breed of restaurant that boasts a big reputation, yet retains the ambience of a hidden gem. It’s easy to see why it’s beloved. The staggering quality of Neapolitan food and the charisma of the staff keeps people coming back for more. Plenty of famous names have made a visit throughout the venue’s history, including Princess Diana. Il Pagliacco has a joyful atmosphere, which swept us up immediately. Accomplished bartender Ramush expertly prepared us cocktails before we were seated. My partner plumped for a Mojito while I sipped the delectable red berry Spring Punch. Once seated, the challenge began: the extensive menu is far too tempting for anyone who, like me, has an indecisive streak. Happily, chef Aaron Craze was on-hand to help. Trained under Jamie Oliver, Aaron is now a TV personality in his own right – and after he talked us through the specials, we were sold. I started with the frittura di calamari, which was raised to greatness by delicious homemade tartare sauce. My partner devoured the flavourful bruschetta. For mains, we chose two of Aaron’s masterpieces. My partner was blown away by the sumptuous lamb shank, which was served on a bed of polenta. I opted for the star of the show: the steak Florentine. This magnifi cent T-bone was cooked to medium-rare perfection and seasoned with cracked pepper, garlic and rosemary. Alongside my main, I enjoyed a glass of the Sannio Coda di Volpe, just one tipple from the diverse wine list. Owner Teo sources all his wine and cheese from an old friend in Italy, who he grew up with in Avellino. For dessert, I couldn’t resist the chocolate soufflé, which came gloriously presented with a generous scoop of vanilla gelato. It was a perfectly decadent end to the meal. My partner, fully satisfied with her first two courses, enjoyed a fresh mint tea to round things off. We left eager for our return to sample more of the menu.