36e Shad Thames
London SE1 2YE
Telephone: 020-7403 5403
Fax: 020-7403 0267 „
This is an Italian restaurant which is situated on the banks of the Thames overlooking the Tower Bridge. It is part of the Conran Group. The setting couldn't be any more picturesque. Having just graduated and still living off a student budget, I found this place slightly too expensive, (Maybe £10 to £15 for a main course) but I suppose you are paying for the prime location. As I love pizzas (which student doesn't?) and they were the cheapest (£7.50 for a main course on the menu, I decided thats what I would have. Unfortunately, there were only 5 or 6 toppings to choose from: Cheese and Tomato, Prosciutto and Basil, Marinara (seafood) and perhaps one with Mushrooms. If I remember correctly, there was no 'chicken' topping nor one with pepperoni. Between a friend and myself, we ordered the prosciutto pizza and the seafood pizza. I was really looking forward to my dinner because I had worked up an appetite but I was a bit disappointed when it arrived. I was hoping for a 'deep pan' but I got a wafer thin crust. I was also surprised to find that their pizzas (other than the cheese and tomato) did not have a tomato base nor the compulsory sprinkling of grated cheese. For me, those are the core ingredients of a good pizza, together with the base, of course. As the prosciutto pizza didn't have a tomato base, if you picked up a slice of pizza, the topping of prosciutto and rocket/basil leaves would promptly fall off. One may as well have called the dish bread with ham and salad. An unusual touch was that it was served on a circular wooden chopping board instead of a plate. I enjoyed the seafood pizza much more as the seafood was mixed in with a tomato sauce. This made it more moist and at least the topping stayed on top of the pizza. The pizza had calamari, prawns and mussels. The sauce was very tasty. The atmosphere was quite lively and jovial, like a bistro. People were sitting outside be
ing served champagne out of an ice bucket whilst watching the world go by. There was also live music with a guitar and accordion duo recreating the sounds of Italy. (They played songs such as 'Santa Lucia' and 'O Sole Mio). Although my experience of the food was not the greatest, in the restaurant's defence, it is probably aimed at a different genre of people (probably those who work in the city or perhaps tourists) and who wouldn't mind trying these 'posh pizzas'. Perhaps in a few more years, I will grow to appreciate such food. Unfortunately, since I only tried the pizzas, I cannot give a fair comment on the other dishes on offer. My lasting memory of 'Cantina del Ponte' is that I left there still feeling hungry and feeling that I had been cheated out of a proper pizza. However, I did enjoy the music thoroughly and maybe in a few more years, I shall return when I have more money to splash out on the more expensive (and hopefully more tasty!) main courses. Until then, its back to the Pizza Hut buffet for me.