Pizza was hot stuff... I could have done with a cold Perroni!
It has been synonymous with Italian food for more than 20 years, but the little village of Eye has someone new to thank for keeping the trend going.
Ristorante I Toscanini set the bar high for the best part of two decades before chef/owner Paolo Bianchi hung up his whites a couple of years ago.
Riva kept the ball rolling for three years until, a month or so ago, Mattoni took up residence at the premises in Peterborough Road.
It has a sister restaurant in Hampton which in recent years has earned a reputation for its food and hospitality. And on the strength of a visit at the weekend, they seem to be on the right track - with plenty of staff, young and old.
Much of the decor looks familiarly rustic Italian from the Toscanini days, but there have been some noticeable changes to the bar and the place is much brighter.
Externally it looks a bit tired and probably needs a bit of TLC some time soon.
As of Saturday they were still without a drinks licence, (I was told this when I booked) but that wasn’t reason enough to put us off. Nor did it trouble the dozens of other diners pouring through the doors between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, many laden with their own wine which staff were, where necessary, happy to provide ice buckets for.
The menu isn’t huge (which isn’t a problem) but had more than enough to satisfy our needs.
A firm favourite for me up first: Calamari Fritti (£5.95).
The little chunks of calamari, dusted with flour and gently fried, were nicely cooked but the calamari to coating ration favoured the latter. There was plenty of it, which came served with a tartare dipping sauce that packed a punch, and as is usually the case, a garnish of rocket.
For Donna, it was polpette (£4.95) - two very juicy and tasty handmade meatballs (minced beef) which were nicely seasoned, pan fried and served up in thick, sweet tomato sauce.
Donna’s salmone alla Griglia (£13.95) which followed was a well grilled salmon supreme, nice and thick, topped with with a salsa verde - the anchovies were a particular treat.
It came served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, a decent, tasty selection, although the sautéed potato chips were a little oily and added nothing to the presentation.
Stone cooked pizza for me - the American Hot (£9.95). The base was thin and crisp,and the topping was packed with red onion, spicy salami, jalapeno peppers and chilli flakes. Where was the ice cold Perroni when I needed one!
The children’s menu (£5.95) was a bargain given the size of the portions ( I know they cater for up to age 12) so half the pizza went home in a box. Result.
Brad Barnes dines at Mattoni, Peterborough Road, Eye, tel 01733 852015 www.mattoni-restaurant.co.uk
Brad’s rating: 8