The Red Pepper: A Little Venice institution (November 2013)

A Little Venice institution, the Red Pepper has been delivering consistently good food in the fifteen years I have been visiting the restaurant. While there have been several changes in both management (the current team, led by the charismatic Lara, is a definite success) and décor, the basic formula has remained unaltered. Put simply, the Red Pepper is all about delivering high-quality pizzas in an intimate setting. Booking in advance would be advised and for claustrophobic diners, this is not a place to go, since the tables (always full) are closely packed together. This undoubtedly helps create a superb atmosphere and the waiters do a superb job in deftly navigating around the tables. Do sit upstairs though, since downstairs lacks the buzz of upstairs. Onto the food, while there are a handful of pasta and meat/fish-based mains, the principal event here is pizza. Don’t think stodgy English-style pizza bases, but light and hand-crafted Italian ones instead. There is a range of around a dozen pizzas to choose from, fairly priced between £8 and £13. I opted for one with Italian sausage, spinach and chilli, while my comrade selected one with wild mushrooms. Both met with large thumbs up, even if the sausage on mine was slightly too salty, which became somewhat wearing towards the end. Our dishes were accompanied by a superb bottle of Morellino di Scansano wine from Tuscany, a regular staple on the Red Pepper’s high quality list, and again fairly priced, at £32. It is also undoubtedly a good idea to save room for dessert. Arguably the restaurant’s piece-de-resistance is their tiramisu – among the very best I have ever sampled – served inventively in a brandy-snap basket, light yet creamy to taste and amply imbued with alcohol. The pizzas and tiramisu too are available in take-away format, providing an additional reason to enjoy the Red Pepper’s fare. Were it not for the waistline, we would be eating from here even more regularly than is already the case.