Pasta at a Perfect Price

Checking out De Cecco's Monday night offer

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One of the most welcome sights of recent months has been signs outside many Fulham restaurants offering set meals at bargain prices. But do they really what they say?  

All too often, the cost mysteriously escalates during dinner, with additional charges for papadums, prawn crackers or even plain water producing a painful final bill which bears no resemblance to the original offer.  

With this in mind, we decided to put one of Parsons Green’s best deals to the test. Monday, says the popular Italian restaurant De Cecco, is Pasta Night, with a choice of dishes priced just £5.95.  

We arrived at 8 o’clock to find the restaurant already bustling. We were shown to a table in the sunny conservatory overlooking New Kings Road, were given bread and olives to nibble without being asked.

We explained we were here for the pasta. Our charming waiter didn’t flinch, and explained we could have any pasta or risotto on the menu except for anything with lobster, such as De Cecco’s house speciality, Spaghetti all’Aragosta which costs £16.50 for a half lobster in tomato, garlic and chilli sauce.  

His smile didn't waver when he asked for our drink orders and we requested tap water. No problem, he said, and it arrived in seconds in a large jug with plenty of ice.  

The pasta menu offered eight dishes, from the old dependable Spaghetti Bolognese to the more unusual Pappardelle al Sugo d’Anatra, wide pasta ribbons with duck ragout and pecorino shavings.  

The carnivore in our party chose Tagliolini allo Speck e Porcini con Essenza di Olio Tartufato -  egg ribbons with speck, porcini mushrooms and aromatic truffle oil -  a combination he declared intense but delicious, before polishing it off.

I chose the Ravioli di Ricotta e Melanzani - home made aubergine and ricotta ravioli with pomodoro and fresh basil sauce - which was perfect, with pasta cooked to just the right texture and oozing with just enough cheese.   My friend wanted the sauce but not the ricotta, and asked for the same dish made with plain spaghetti. Again, no problem. She was given a generous dish of spaghetti, with a sauce we both agreed was delicate and sweet and with enough basil to add extra flavour without overwhelming it.  

With clean plates removed, we were given the dessert menu.  It  was undeniably tempting, with firm favourites like Zabaglione, Tiramasu and Panna Cotta with vanilla and fresh raspberries, plus ice creams and sorbets in flavours like amaretto and cherry. But remembering our mission, we steeled ourselve, handed back the menu and asked for the bill. The waiter still didn’t flinch.  

When it came, the price was as promised - £20.08, including a well deserved £2 for the friendly service, and no charge for the bread, olives or ice.  

As we left the by now nearly full restaurant to crack open a carton of Haagen Dazs at home, we agreed that De Cecco had passed our price test with flying colours, and my friend is now eager to return for a romantic meal with her boyfriend -  this time complete with pudding.  

As well as Monday Pasta Nights, De Cecco also does a special two course set menu for £12.95, available seven days a week at lunchtimes from noon till 3pm and early evenings from 6.30pm till 8pm.

Sheila Prophet      
 

 

 

September 7, 2009

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