by Bear in Britain
Windsor, United Kingdom
November 9, 2002
Santopadre is a small, comfortable, family-run place that seems to always be booming. Reservations, I’d guess, are a must. I’ve eaten there twice and have never seen anyone get a table without booking. People clearly enjoy themselves here and linger for hours.
There’s no formal menu here. It changes by day, depending on what’s in season and what’s available. Thus, you’re always assured the highest quality. The proprietors will tell you what’s on offer … which can be a bit of an adventure if you don’t speak Italian! But be brave, and go with the flow. Master the phrase "cosa consiglia" (what do you recommend?) and go with their choice. Of course, if there’s anything that’s going to make you turn blue and faint, best to learn the word for that so you can avoid it!
The best thing for me about eating at Santopadre is the vast assortment of antipasti. You sit down, they bring them. Some days they’re mostly meat-based, some days fish. They automatically bring out numerous dishes of bite-sized delicacies, plus piles of fresh bread and the house wine. (These are all arranged on a big table in one corner of the restaurant so you can inspect before eating, if you wish).
From there, though the antipasti was almost a meal, we moved on to pastas. The pasta had the bite and density that indicated it was very fresh. Sauces were delicate and there was quite a variety … we all sampled each other’s and didn’t find anything we disliked.
Both times I’ve eaten here I’ve been far too stuffed to move on to a main course, but I’ve seen remarkable fish and steaks going by. Desserts were also home-made and often featured sharp fruit flavours, good to counter the range of savoury flavours you’ve been consuming.
Like other great local places, if you linger and appear to be enjoying yourself a bottle of vin santo and plate of sweet biscuits for dipping comes out, unasked for, at the end of the meal. Delicious. Be careful, though. This stuff packs much more of a punch than its taste suggests!
I couldn’t figure out the details of the bill. My impression was that is was on a fixed-price basis, with a per person cost based on how many courses you had. All I know is that it was remarkably cheap for what we had. The equivalent in London would have cost triple, and not nearly as good.
From journal Rome: A frequent visitor’s favourites