Malletti – Tooting

When visiting a chain restaurant you expect there to be a certain standard and consistency. You don’t survive in Soho and the likes without a decent understanding of the market and what people expect of you. However, there are certain issues with chains slowly developing, much like certain shops take over family businesses, but the family continue to run it, sometimes things aren’t consistent. In the case of Malletti, Tooting, London, I can only presume things aren’t done the same in Tooting as they are in Soho. On the edge of the busy Amen Corner, the atmosphere does well to remove the diner from the hustle and bustle outside.

However, the music and the final touches in the place did seem to be missing a little making it hard to properly unwind and relax at the end of the day. The food itself presented a few problems that honestly aren’t that acceptable for a restaurant. The tastes and flavour was there, well seasoned and good fresh ingredients, but execution really did just miss the mark.

The starter of tomato bruschetta wasn’t traditional, instead the choice of bread was, well, I don’t even know what that was but it had dents in it and wasn’t flat so the chef making it must have struggled to ‘grate’ the garlic along the top, which probably explains why there was a huge hunk of garlic on the top of it. Also, all you need is a dribble of oil not so much that it soaks through the entire bread and takes away from the flavour of the juicy tomatoes sitting on top.

For main I opted for a Fiorentina pizza, which had a just-about-cooked duck egg sitting in the middle. I appreciate the desire to have a runny yoke, but I don’t want my white to be all wobbly too, it does make the diner a little paranoid. Again, oil was an issue here. The pizza base was thin, just how I like it, meaning it should have been crispy too. But it wasn’t crispy, instead it was just floppy because of the oil, or perhaps they used a very oily/fatty cheese, and it had soaked through. But it was large, filling and decently priced, just a shame about that ‘joyful’ warmth feeling you get from having pizza missing.

My partner had the pesto gnocchi for his main, and again, there was a large serving of it inside a bowl. The gnocchi was well cooked, and there was a good amount of pesto across them all, but, if there were pine nuts in there they were very well crushed, perhaps a shame as they would have broken the texture up well. It didn’t come with any salad though, and there was no suggestion that this should have been ordered as a side, meaning that he had finished eating far before me! No wonder he said yes when asked if we wanted the dessert menu.

For dessert I had an apple flan. A weird mix between an upside down tart and a cake. The cake element was quite dense and the apples on the top had kind of moulded together with sugar but gone all soft, limp and rather lacking in flavour when I ate it. It wasn’t the best apple based dessert I have ever eaten, mainly because I couldn’t taste any apple.

My partner had the tiramasu. He loves the stuff, and has it practically every time we go to an Italian restaurant. It looked like a large piece, and he said that it was as good as any other tiramasu he had previously encountered, suggesting alcohol, coffee and cream levels were all well balanced. Perhaps, the best part of the meal then.

I wouldn’t go back there again, according to other reviews online, it sounds like it was better before it was taken over by the chain and that the old managers used to have a better way about the place and the industry. It was a decent price, but similar to a  place I visited a few weeks ago, and it really didn’t live up to those standards at all. I’d struggle to recommend this place, purely because the pizza really wasn’t up to the standard I’d expect it to be, instead I’d send people to the local takeaway or supermarket and get them to get one from there – perhaps a little harsh, but at least then it would be deep-pan and fluffy and soft or thin and crispy, rather than an uncomfortable mix between the two.

The wine was decent though and went well with the food, if you do go to eat there, you should look forward to that because there selection is good and probably all are of equally good standard – I might go as far to say the owner has a greater understanding of wine than of food.

Important update (5/5/15): This restaurant has now closed and instead re-opened not just under the original name but also seeing the material and look return to what it once was. Therefore this review may not accurately represent the food or atmosphere of the place. I would suggest giving it a go though as for it to return to the original owners and reopen and seem successful again it would suggest standards have certainly been upped. I intend to return and try it out soon.

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