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3 The Plaza, Denmark St, Wokingham, RG40 2LD. Tel:+44 118 989 2090

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      09.10.2010 14:33
      Very helpful



      I think I prefer Pizza Express

      When I met a couple of friends for an meal yesterday evening, we opted to try the new branch of Prezzo which has recently opened in Broad Street, Wokingham. Prezzo is a chain of Italian restaurants, similar in many ways to Pizza Express, the main difference being that Prezzo tends to choose older and historic buildings as their locations whilst providing a more contemporary interior.

      The company's mission statement is: "At Prezzo we believe in serving great Italian food by friendly staff in stylish and contemporary surroundings."

      My dining experience:

      - Booking -

      It's possible to book a table, either by phone or online through the restaurant website. I'd strongly advise advance booking because this restaurant tends to get very busy, especially at weekends. As we arrived, a couple who hadn't booked were being advised that it would be an hour or more before a table became available.

      - Exterior and Parking -

      Montague House in Broad Street, Wokingham, is an late Georgian school building which is set back from the road with a paved courtyard in front surrounded by wrought iron railings. The courtyard has several wooden tables outside for al fresco dining (weather permitting) or drinking and is dotted with potted box trees. The general impression given is very stylish and upmarket.

      There is a very tiny parking area to the side of the courtyard with space for approximately three cars although these may be reserved for restaurant staff only. However, Waitrose car park is to the back of this building which allows two hours free parking whilst the store is opened and unlimited parking from 8pm, so for evening diners, it's possible to park there and walk through onto Broad Street, which takes a matter of a couple of minutes.

      - Interior and Ambience -

      The entrance hall of Montague House has been converted into a reception area, very tastefully decorated in pale green with polished wooden floors and a beautiful piece of abstract art on display. To the left is a small bar area and to the right is the dining area. There is also another entrance at the back of the entrance hall for access to the rear of the dining area and to the facilities.

      The dining area itself is a good size stretching from the front to the back of the building. This area is also decorated in neutral colours. Again, the overall impression is stylish. However, like most restaurant chains, the tables are set fairly closely together and the level of noise was pretty high when we were there because the restaurant was filled to capacity.

      The ladies' loo (I can't give any information about the gents') was clean and sweet smelling and was supplied with good quality soap in dispensers, plus plentiful paper towels as well as hand dryers.

      - Menu & Pricing -

      The menu is fairly comprehensive and reasonably priced. The menu is divided into Starters, Pasta, Risotti, Al Forno, Grills, and Pizza. There are side dishes available, too, including bread and olives, as well as lighter (diet) options which claim to be 650 calories or less. However, I was on a "sod the diet" day so didn't try one of these.

      Main courses are served with a side salad and a choice of gratinated potatoes or fries. There is a mix of meat and fish dishes offered as well as a good choice of vegetarian dishes although it might be difficult for a vegan to find anything to eat as most of the vegetarian meals involve cheese and/or cream.

      Prices range from £4.65 for a starter up to £11.65 for a main course and puddings cost £2.95 for ice cream up to £4.95 for sticky toffee pudding.

      - Service -

      Our table was booked for 7:30pm and, as we'd booked earlier online, on arriving we were shown to the table immediately and handed menus. The greeter was pleasant and friendly and showed us to the table where the waitress came almost immediately to hand us menus. She then left us to make our food choices. She came back a few minutes later but was happy to leave us a while longer to make up our minds.

      Once we'd ordered, there was a very short delay before the food arrived (no more than ten minutes at a guess) and before that our drinks had been served. The food was hot, as were the plates.

      We were then left to finish our meal in peace and once finished, the plates were cleared away discreetly and the dessert menu presented. Again, we weren't pressured to make our choices quickly, despite the restaurant being busy. In fact, at no time were we made to feel that they wanted the table for the next customers.

      - The Food -

      We didn't have a starter but for our main course chose Pollo Siciliana, Pollo ai Funghi and as a non-meat eater, I had the Penne con Salmone. The dish names were in Italian but descriptions were in English so there would be no difficulty in interpreting what was being ordered.

      The Pollo Siciliana was chargrilled chicken served with parma ham and cheese which was declared rather dry and overcooked. The Pollo ai Funghi, chargrilled chicken with mushrooms and spinach in a marsala wine sauce was also deemed to be overcooked and dry despite the sauce. My salmon served with broccoli and red pesto with cream sauce was delicious. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the sauce was plentiful.

      We decided against a pudding as we'd all found the main course to be very filling so we simply ordered filter coffees. These were very strong and decidedly bitter but I'm guessing we were given Italian style coffee which does tend to be on the strong side, although I don't think that excused the bitterness of the brew.

      The coffees weren't served with any complimentary chocolates or ameretti.

      - Overall impression -

      This was a pleasant evening with tasty, though somewhat overcooked food and bitter coffee. The service was excellent and I'd recommend this restaurant with slight reservations. I think the menu is universal to all Prezzo restaurants so the quibble we had about the actual food is down to the chef at this branch. If I were to compare this restaurant to the Pizza Express just further down Broad Street, I think I would choose the latter over Prezzo, certainly in terms of food.

      - Restaurant details -

      Montague House,
      31 Broad Street, Wokingham, RG40 1AU
      Tel: 0118 978 5139
      Online booking: http://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/book-a-table/


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