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Homemade & Handbaked At Fornata, Soho

Homemade & Handbaked At Fornata, Soho

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I challenge you to find me anyone who hasn’t spilled out of Oxford Circus tube station onto the high street heaving with wide-eyed tourists and gone into a state of mild panic about where to stop for food. Sure, you could walk into the first place you see, if you fancy weeping into your bill and/or offering to pawn your best friend to a very brusque waiter two hours later.  Or, you could go somewhere affordable, that doesn’t require a half hour trek past the temptations of an abominably large Topshop. Yes, such a place exists – it is called Fornata.

I’ve done it. I’ve found a reasonably priced restaurant in central London that doesn’t require half an hour of navigating confusing side roads and back alleys to find. Just off Carnaby Street (if you can’t find that, you’re done for) lies Fornata, a homely place modelled on the long-standing tradition of Italian communal ovens.

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Like most good Italians, Fornata is all about the pizza and pasta, but what impressed me was the comprehensive Antipasti menu. Ideal for pairing with an Aperitif before a Thursday night out in Soho, the menu boasts the usual breads, cheeses and cured meats as well as impressive hot dishes, from sizzling Calamari Fritti (fried Calamari) to Melanzana alla Parmigiana (baked aubergine with melted cheese).  Try three between two for a light snack, or five dishes for a truly varied and satisfying meal. If you had something more obviously substantial in mind, a fresh pizza baked al forno is most definitely the way to go.

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I always take it as a good sign when restaurants are keen to show off their dedicated cooks at work and was happy to spot Fornata’s staff using a roaring clay oven in the corner.  The top floor is filled with a delicious aroma as a result, making it nigh on impossible to resist ordering from the Forno menu. We chose Calzone Con Polpettine E Mozzarella, (baked meatball and mozzarella calzone to you and I) which was a steal at £11, and Pizza Quattro Stagioni, covered in mozzarella, prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms and olives (£12.50). Both tasted great and I felt all the happier tucking in knowing they’d been made freshly for us on the premises.

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Now I must move on to the star feature of this venue  – it is not the helpful staff nor the prime location, but the Panettone bread and butter pudding. If you like the good old English version, prepare to be converted as in typical fashion the Italians have taken our stodgy, wintery dessert and transformed it into something so light and zingy you can happily devour it all without feeling like you’ve swallowed a brick. I’m already planning a return visit (al fresco, fingers crossed) for some good Italian coffee and my second helping of this truly special treat.

Amy @ FashonBite xx

15 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PS
Telephone:020 8181 8887
Email: reservations@fornata.com

Amy Everett is FashionBite's food and travel editor, she also writes for national newspapers and magazines including the Guardian Travel, Stylist, Shortlist, Red, Cosmopolitan and more.

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