Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Step back in time…

A final rummage through my notes reminded me that I was, all in one day, an action hero, a ‘girlyman’ (to quote Arnold Schwartznegger) and a time traveller. I think abseiling down the side of a 14 storey building constitutes the hairy-chested-man-of-action-Grrr image that I would like to convey, albeit without the box of chocolates.

On the flip side, is the ‘girlyman’ wimp that hid behind his hands watching Wolfman, with the ever gorgeous Emily Blunt. Jumping out of my skin when someone behind me dived into a pack of popcorn at the most tense of moments. But time traveller? Well, yes.

The late evening ticket for the film meant that I needed to eat something before going into the cinema. Something quick and simple and not too far that going back to the flat would constitute an easier option. Round the corner and down the road from Fulham is an old institution. I say ‘old’, this institution is somewhere I went in the 80’s and early 90’s as a teenager, and I couldn’t resist checking it out again for old times’ sake; a trip down Memory Lane (or in this case, Kings Road).

Even with the passing years, nothing has really changed at Pucci Pizza. The location is different, having formerly been housed in a terrace diagonally opposite the Chelsea Fire station; the interior has been done in a deliberately similar layout, regular customers (mainly pretty young girls about town) are pictured in framed collages on the walls, and the place still retains some of its former character, hints of red and green against a white wall, to demonstrate its true Italian-ness. The owner’s son is now in charge and provides a link between the past and the present. Teens and twenty-somethings sit along side those, like me I guess, who were customers in the 80’s and 90’s, and are now old enough to be their parents (now that is scary!) or ex-Sloane Rangers harking back to their youth. There is a very casual party atmosphere and that is reflected with the music, occasionally live, and staff who look like they are, sometimes, having more fun than the customers.

A rather formal touch to the informality for the place were the small bruschette delivered once the order had been placed, (though because of the pending change of license I had to order wine and put it down as a rather large service charge). They had a really tomato and vinegary zing and crunch, and went very quickly. In fact, they could have been a main course in copious amounts.

Pizze are hard to mess up once the base is made, and that was one thing I do remember about Pucci. They never used to get it wrong, so the twitching suspense was heightened as the waiting for the pizza drew out (though not too long!). I ordered the Capriciosa. I have always loved egg and anchovy as a combination so couldn’t resist it. My pizza was piping hot from the over, crispy, crunchy and thin, the base softening the closer you got to the centre. I prefer thin crusty pizze to the breadier, thicker bases. The flavours? well that is the easy bit: a rich tomato base, layers of cheese and anchovies and, of course, the egg, though I don’t like my egg scrambled and cooked into the topping as they did on this. For me, leaving the egg to fry in the centre is preferable, but that is my choice and many would disagree, as they would about the thickness of the base and so many other things.

Still, it worked; powdery, crumbly golden yolk and salty, briny anchovy shock; tart tomato and creamy melted cheese, scattered pieces of mushroom and ham completing the tutti frutti colour balance (although the ingredients' quality were run of the mill). So? It’s a pizza! And I was full enough and ready for my schlock horror film.

Wow! What a retro-mental experience. Seeing it without rose coloured glasses is a whole new experience. It is old Chelsea and ‘to hell with it’. It relies on its reputation for being fun and buzzy and has done so for nearly three decades. (Not only that, but its website points out it is Chelsea in the address, next to the changing pictures of the parked red Ferrari and Callum Best). Cheap and cheerful? Definitely. I guess I would prefer to go there than go to one of a chain of well-knowns. Classy? Erm.. think again. But for a value for money quick bite I would probably go again.

Pucci Pizza 442 Kings Road SW10 0LQ Chelsea London T: 020 7352 2134 E: enquiries@puccipizza.co.uk

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