La Cucina di Soteri

Nelson Road, SE10

This is a classic example of a place that promises slightly more than it delivers, IMHO. It looks fantastic – perched on the corner of the road opposite Nauticalia and Dreadnought Library and painted a jaunty yellow, this family-run Italian really looks the business.

I always get just a little excited when I go in – and yes, I do go in on a reasonably regular basis (given that trying to test out all the eateries in Greenwich doesn’t allow much in the way of return visits save for the excellent Kum Laung.) The welcome is always friendly, the interior bright, modern and promising in bright shades of yellow and blue, the menu also quite interesting, usually with a special that actually changes.

And the dishes are quite good. The pasta’s fine and the pizza is freshly made and not bad. But in my humble opinion, that’s all it is. It isn’t fantastic, which it really could be. Obviously it’s better than somewhere like Pizza Luna, the worst pizza I have ever eaten, but this is a family-run Italian restaurant – the pizza should be amazing, not just not bad. There is something truly wonderful about a superbly-made pizza, however simple the topping – that skinny-thin, slightly bubbly, unevenly-shaped dough, covered with truly tomatoey, well-made sauce (guess who’s on a diet just now and can’t have any) and baked to perfection. Sadly, La Cucina’s version just doesn’t do it for me – it’s almost there – but not quite.

One thing that La Cucina is good for is group meals – something at which they excel – and virtually every time I’ve ever been in there it’s been full of parties – birthday, work and anniversary-style. Everybody always seems to be having a good time and there is plenty of bonhomie from the staff and space for such occasions (including an inexplicably large empty space downstairs where the loos are.) For that reason it’s not really the best place for intimate diner-a-deux.

I will keep going to La Cucina di Soteri – it’s good for pre-cinema visits and lunchtimes – but I really wish they’d up their game on the food. Just a little more effort and they could be stunning. Sadly a cry that could apply to so many eateries in Greenwich…

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