Just in time for the school holidays, I have a lovely Italian restaurant to tell you about, perfect for a family lunch. Per Tutti opened in February on Holywell Hill, near the walk up to the Vintry Garden and Cathedral, where Singhli used to be. We really liked Singhli and were curious to see who had arrived in its place.
Per Tutti is an independent Italian, owned and run by chef Jovanni, his partner Olga and friend Dan. Jovanni has 15 years’ experience of cooking Italian food, having worked for Zaza. The trio have lived and worked locally so were keen to open their business in St Albans. Olga explained: “it is such an historical and lovely old place and we wanted to open near where we live.”
A quirky, narrow building, Olga (along with Bright Space Design) have created a light, welcoming space, with pale grey panelling, funky lighting and a Venetian scene on the wall. It is not very large, so for weekends you really do need to book. I took the family early on a Friday evening, and by 7.30 the restaurant was turning people away. It is a good sign that Per Tutti are getting things right. Olga told me that some of their old customers have found them here, and that they have felt very welcomed by St Albanites and nearby businesses.
We found the service was efficient and friendly, and the waiters had time to talk to customers, which made for a welcoming atmosphere. In the time we were there we saw people popping in to eat on their own, couples, groups of friends and the team were setting up balloons for a big birthday. Candles were lit as the families started to leave and I can imagine this is a very cosy place for a date dinner.
The menu is classic Italian, with a good range of pastas, pizzas, fish and meat, all at very reasonable prices that compete well with the chains. We chose mushroom aranchini and bruschetta pomodoro which had lots of lovely garlicky flavour. Pizzas were a big hit with the children (the child-size pizza was very generous), and a friend on a nearby table recommended the calamari and gnocchi. My tuna with five bean salad and salsa verde was good; I was asked how I wanted the tuna cooked, and it was delicious. I liked the pulses and bean salad but I expected one of the ‘five beans’ to be fresh green beans, which it needed, so you might want to choose salad or vegetables to go with. The wine list is mostly Italian, as it should be, and my good value glass of Gavi di Gavi went well with the tuna.
Olga told me that the most popular dishes so far are Scaloppine al funghi (veal in mushroom and white wine sauce) and Linguine de mare (with squid, mussels, prawns and clams).
The children’s menu was very good at £5.90; it includes fruit juice, a generous pizza or bowl of pasta, vanilla ice cream and a babycino. It was definitely enough for our ten-year old. If you are using a pushchair, you might find the steps up to the restaurant and loos tricky, though once you are in I think children are made very welcome.
Lunch is amazing value with one course for £5.50 and two for £8.50. There is a good selection from the main menu, including aranchini, goats’ cheese salad, pizza, pasta and risotto. Risotto Primavera with broccoli, beans and fresh mint sounds great for lunch.
Already busy, Per Tutti has found a winning formula for St Albans, and I am sure they will continue to do well. Open every day. 30 Holywell Hill, St Albans. T: 01727 839991This is Jovanni