A few weeks ago we wanted to celebrate a friend’s birthday and after a bit of encouragement they finally agreed to head somewhere. After a pretty long time deliberating what food they fancied and the options available Ponte Nuovo was the spot decided upon as it allowed for a variety of types of food that would keep everybody in the group happy without being too formal or ridiculous in price per item on the menu.
Now I will admit, to my shame, that I might have been a little tipsy by the time we arrived at the restaurant, situated under the flyover in central Croydon, and I was desperately trying to act perfectly normal… in that way that makes the situation 10× worse but you can’t help it. It was nothing too silly and I was still able to fully taste the food and consider it for different depths, ingredients and textures as well as how the staff approached an evening service.
The staff were actually incredibly attentive and thoughtful. When we asked for water for the table they brought glasses with lemon in and a whole jug so we could pour away instead of constantly having to ask for me (is it just me that hates how tight other places can be with free water?).
They also took pride in their food and the quality of it. One of our table asked for spinach to be added on top of their pizza and instead of the waiter just going with it he asked questions as to why and had it been had like that before. You could imagine if a guest asked for something terribly bizarre they would decline the suggestion to not insult the chef, their traditions in cooking and to not be tricked into something that could land an awful review despite it being the customers demand.
As always, it is the small stuff with serving staff and their attitudes that makes a huge difference to the way a diner feels when walking away from a restaurant. The approach of the staff in Ponte Nuovo certainly left me with a smile and a feeling of welcomed content.
We, well I just sat there and nodded when it was suggested, opted for the house red wine. Amusingly they tried to see if I wanted to be the person to test it but I politely passed that honour across because I didn’t want to end up being like “well all the wine tasting events I have gone to tells me X about this wine”!
Food came out pretty swiftly after ordering, helped by flowing table conversation, especially given they had a number of tables to cover, with four plus people on, that arrived at a similar time to ourselves. The smell of all the different dishes, despite not being super squeezed together on the table, wafted around in the air and was a pleasant aroma of carbs, dairy and deep vegetables.
Pretty much as soon as we stepped outside into fresh air to head to the restaurant I had decided that pizza was probably going to be what I ordered. Pasta dishes can be pretty hit and miss in terms of the amount of pasta on offer, despite always being delicious, and substantial carbs were the thing my mind was recommending to me.
After pondering over about five different pizzas I plonked for the vegetarian one that was loaded with peppers, sundried tomatoes, red onion, cheese and an assortment of other bits and bobs. When it arrived it looked wonderfully colourful and fresh as well as having an aroma of herby tomato sauce and a hand stretched base.
The base of the pizza was light and fluffy but a little crispy on the outside to give it a bit of texture during each bite. Whilst large in size the base itself was not heavy to eat and did not leave a feeling of being bloated or overloaded with dough afterwards. It really allowed for the flavours, substance and richness of the toppings and sauce to be the star of the show. A brilliant pizza and compared to the ‘well-known’ Italian chain restaurants this one was better and cheaper!
Then there is always room for some sort of dessert. As mentioned on a recent post though, I generally avoid coffee things so decided against the tiramasu (pictured as the birthday friend opted for it) and was just not feeling the cream loaded profiteroles so naturally I swept all other options aside and zoned straight in on the cheese board.
The board came with a variety of different cheeses, as you would expect, some thin slices of fruity bread, some balsamic vinegar, honey and salad as well as a seperate basket of various crackers and some butter. I let my friend tuck into some of the crackers and a bit of cheese whilst I tried to insist that the parmigiana was something entirely different purely because I couldn’t remember the proper name.
It was a good variety of cheeses and items on the board that made for a super hearty dessert for one but could easily have been shared for two because of the way that everything was cut up into multiples of two. Certainly not the greatest and most inventive platter I have ever had but by no means not the worse and it still left me doing the cheese dance (at least inside my head) afterwards.
There are actually several Ponte Nuovo restaurants in and around Croydon but I can of course only vouch for the quality of staff, food, drink and atmosphere in the one that sits underneath the flyover on the High Street in central Croydon.
This is certainly somewhere that I would recommend you going for either a casual meal out, a celebration meal or a date night as the food menu is varied enough to have something to suit everybody and the quality, especially considering the price point, is great too.
I certainly am considering a trip back in the future. If you have ever gone to either this Ponte Nuovo or another location please do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.