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Address: 117B High Street / Wanstead / London E11 2RL / Tel: 020 8989 9989

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      11.08.2011 12:31
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      A lovely local place

      To celebrate the first pay day of the New Year some colleagues and I decided to do for a meal locally. We selected Wanstead as it was convenient for most of us to get to and on the Central Line tube network. We chose Geoberti's, a family run Italian restaurant, as some of us had tried it before and found it to be a good meal. We had a table booked for 8.30pm, and arrived promptly from the bar across the road. The restaurant was already very busy, so we were glad to have booked. It is a narrow restaurant - a single shop front width - which extends quite far back with tables on each side of the room allowing you to walk down the middle. There is also a small bar on one side of the room in the middle - this is more for preparing drinks orders rather than one to sit at, as space would be too tight. The restaurant is simply furnished in dark brown wood seats and tables and the walls covered with framed photos, posters and maps relating to anything Italian. The atmosphere was buzzing and lively and it had an authentic Italian trattoria feel to it and I instantly warmed to the place.

      There were seven of us dining as we had a late drop-out (there is always one) but it meant that we got a table for eight. So although someone had to sit opposite an empty seat, we had plenty of space. Besides, our lovely hostess and owner (who I have nicknamed Mama Geoberti), offered to sit down and have a chat with my colleague in the spare seat if she got lonely. The menu is extensive and there are plenty of options for vegetarians. I am sure they would be able to cater for most dietry preferences, but that wasn't a requirement this evening. As with all largeish groups it takes a while to sort out the drinks and after ordering a glass of red wine, one colleague changed her mind after it had been poured. Mama Geoberti wasn't fazed by this and graciously exchanged the drink. The drinks selection was typical of most restaurants; I believe beers are bottled, rather than draught. They have a modest wine selection and Mama Geoberti's recommendation was given the thumbs up by those that partook.

      Food wise, we all went for starters; I chose the traditional bruschetta which was £4.95. I received two good sized chunks of bread piled high with fresh chopped tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and some fresh basil on the side. The tomato pile defied gravity and fell off as soon as I cut into it, but it all tasted delicious. I thought it nicely presented and a good sized portion. The calamari got the thumbs up, although the batter didn't; as did the prawns and calf liver. A couple of people ordered garlic breads, one of which went back half eaten. He claimed it was "too much" but is a renowned fussy eater so no one took any notice.

      For my main I chose from the ample Specials selection. I chose (after much deliberation) the spinach and ricotta ravioli in a cherry tomato and porcini sauce with olive oil and fresh spinach leaves (£11.50). It arrived beautifully as described, the portion size was just right - I couldn't quite finish it but I am a small eater. The pasta was obviously fresh as were all the ingredients, with an interesting strong herby mushroom kick from the porcini. Generally the mains were appreciated by our party all around, again fish being popular and enjoyed with the exception of Mr Fussy who left most of his tuna pasta dish saying to Mama Geoberti that it was too much. I don't think he really liked it, but he doesn't like much and it is nigh on impossible to pin him down to specifics about why he doesn't like something, so I am not sure we should entirely include his feedback in this experience, but I wanted to give a balance.

      I visited the toilets at the back of the restaurant - there was only one cubicle for ladies, but this didn't cause a queue that I saw. It was well stocked with toilet paper and soap, and there was a hand dryer. As the restaurant is all on one level I would say it is suitable for disabled visitors, even though there are no specific facilities due to the small size. It would be a tight squeeze to get a wheelchair down there, some patience and manouverability would be required.

      Only a handful took up the offer of desserts and coffee, and Mama Geoberti was true to her word and sat down to have a little chat with us. She is the true life blood of this restaurant and keeps the place running whilst taking orders, bringing food, haranguing kitchen staff (poor chef mistakenly told her the tuna pasta was sausage pasta), cleaning the loos and chatting to all her customers. Overall the bill came to £188 which included two courses for seven people, plus drinks and a couple of desserts and excluded a service charge. Although this is obviously pricier than going to a chain Italian restaurant, I think Mama Geoberti and her team really make the place welcoming and a relaxing change from the norm and I look forward to a return visit.

      There is a menu on the website, but I believe it to be out of date - the prices have certainly increased but it gives an idea of the huge selection.

      http://www.gioberti.co.uk/restaurant_menu.html

      117b High Street
      Wanstead
      London E11 2RL

      RESTAURANT OPENING TIMES
      Monday to Friday 5.00pm -10.30pm
      Saturday 11.30am - 10.30pm
      Sunday 11.30am - 8.30pm
      RESERVATIONS 020 8989 9989

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