“A décor that visually transports one to Italy”
Price: £10 – 15 for main course and drink
Overall rating: 3.5 stars
The highlight of Al Fresco is its décor that reminisces an Italian garden and can visually transport one to Italy. Its leafy decorations surrounding each table, partial glass roof and some exposed brickwork allows for an outdoor dining experience all year round. The lighting, in the evenings, is provided predominantly by lamps fixated to the ceilings and walls, contributing to the warm ambience of the restaurant. The tables’ decorations collude with such themes, with dainty flowers placed on each table, adding a touch of colour.
The menu features a wide choice of food, encompassing a variety pizzas, pastas, seafood, meat, poultry and salads, with an extensive choice for vegetarians. For starters, I would recommend the mixed platters to share. The ‘antipasto marinaio’ is perfect for seafood lovers, far more than enough to feed the suggested two to share. These platters really are the best starters on the menu, which is let down slightly by its other dishes. The funghi pan fried with garlic, for example, was a basic dish of chopped mushrooms fried in garlic and butter and was far too oily and sloppily piled on a plate.
I ordered the ‘Chicken in blue cheese and asparagus sauce’ ( which is unfortunately no longer on the updated menu). The chicken was moist, and well complemented with the creamy sauce. It was served with a side of well seasoned sautè potatoes and boiled broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, which were fairly plain and unfortunately did not live up to the chicken and potatoes.
The service could be improved slightly. Although the staff are friendly, I feel that greater attention could be paid to their customers, for example, greeting guests upon arrival in a swift and friendly manner, as opposed to leaving them to wait around for a few minutes and then vaguely guide them towards a table.
Al Fresco is always busy, being popular amongst locals, therefore booking is recommended for large groups. Its relaxed atmosphere makes it appropriate for all party types, including children and families. The dress-code is fairly informal, however, its picturesque setting makes it the kind of place that would be suitable for a special occasion. I, personally, celebrated my 21st birthday here.
Overall, I would recommend Al Fresco as an alternative to the Italian chains that are overvisited in suburban London. It is definitely one of the better Italian restaurants in the area, and its unique selling point is most definitely its décor and consequent atmosphere. The wide-ranging menu offers something for all tastes, however, some dishes are of better quality and taste than others. What lets the venue down slightly is the service, which could be improved in order to enhance customers’ experiences.
1327 High Road
London N20 9HR
Tel: 020 8445 8880
Monday – Saturday : 12 noon – 11pm
Sunday : 12 noon – 10pm