Restaurant review: Ponte Nuovo, Croydon

By - Thursday 27th February, 2014

Next on Tom Lickley’s and Cormac Mannion’s tour of Croydon’s eating establishments is Italian restaurant Ponte Nuovo

Ponte Nuovo Ristorante and Bar, 80-86 High Street, Croydon CR0 1NA. Tel. 020 8686 1112
Time from East Croydon:   10 minutes 

Photo by Tom Lickley. All rights reserved.

It’s a windy, wet New Years Eve in Croydon, and after a busy and exhausting year, Cormac Mannion and I decide to see in 2014 in what was intended to be low-key style, with our first attempt at eating in Ponte Nuovo to be followed by a drink or several. Despite the fact the restaurant is busy, our early arrival – at around 7 – means there is still space to squeeze in, with the staff only too happy to accommodate us after haphazardly deciding not to book anywhere on quite possibly the busiest night of the year.

Ponte Nuovo is tucked neatly underneath the flyover, providing that location with a considerably nicer environment previously occupied by a succession of rough edged nightclubs. Facing the entrance is a brightly lit bar, where couples sipped pre-meal flutes of champagne, and the atmosphere within the restaurant is a great setting for a chat, the celebratory mood in the air enhancing the dining experience.

The interior is light and modern, yet welcoming; as may be expected for the occasion the restaurant was filling to capacity nicely. A bottle of the house red, a light yet tasty companion, perfect for Italian food, was ordered and promptly served by the attentive waiters. So far, so good.

The menu features a range of classic Italian dishes, with every pizza and pasta dish one might expect. In addition to this, the menu stands out for its antipasti and fish dishes – take the bresaola alpina for instance, dry cured beef with taleggio cheese, or the gamberoni imperiali, giant prawns with garlic, chilli, white whine, butter and lemon sauce.

High marks, then, for both quality of service and quality of food

However, my companion and I stuck to the traditional Italian meals, with the premise that the best Italian restaurants are defined by getting the basic dishes right, given Italian food is defined by its simplicity in preparation and ingredients. With that in mind, the pennette carbonara and the margherita pizza were ordered, and we settled back to reminisce on the year.

Not that we had long to wait – the excellent service in the restaurant ensured our meals were served promptly, and we tucked in. The pizza was of high quality: a light, yet filling base with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil and of a price comparable – if only slightly more expensive – than similar Italian chain restaurants.

The carbonara, meanwhile, was rich, creamy and substantial; often the richness of the meal can hinder the quality but on this occasion a good balance was struck.

High marks, then, for both quality of service and quality of food. However, whilst the food was good, it wasn’t spectacular; the atmosphere and interior of Ponte Nuovo is preferable to that of contemporary chain restaurants, but the food was very similar in quality and presentation. Whilst this is no bad thing, for Ponte to really achieve top marks, there would need to be a clear difference in quality. This shouldn’t detract from the fact that the overall dining experience is superior.

For one looking for good Italian food in an informal setting with plenty of choice in terms of both food and drink, Ponte Nuovo matches all those requirements and more.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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