By Zoe Roberts

When I found out that Sanzio restaurant in nearby Willesden Green was on the shortlist for review, I couldn’t hide my excitement.

I’ve frequented Sanzio in the evenings many times with friends and think of it as a seductive place where their twinkly fairy lights merge with (usually) too many glasses of vino.

But could Sanzio deliver in the cold light of day with kids in hand?

More specifically on a grey wet and windy Saturday lunchtime…

After seating my son (sans iPad) and wrestling my daughter into the highchair, we were finally ready to peruse the food menu. As most families do, we often order the same thing – getting in and out as quickly as possible which doesn’t really give us a true reflection of the restaurant or its offering.

This time we decided to be resilient and order from their extensive menu. We focused on their specials board consisting of dishes from all regions of Italy, but mainly from the Veneto region in the North.

After an age, we decided on king prawns in garlic and calamari to start. For the kids we ordered garlic pizza bread – which formed part of the exceptionally good value children’s meals. At £7.50 for three courses and a drink, they (and we) couldn’t be happier.

The calamari’s beer batter coating was deliciously crispy, garnished with chopped spring onions and chilli for a little kick. The king prawns were beautifully charred, succulent and gorgeously garlicky – all served with slices of fragrant chorizo. They looked as good as they tasted.

For mains we opted for the linguine Frutti di Mare with a side order of polenta chips and the special of pan-fried skate with caper butter served with fries.

The pasta came loaded with sumptuous king prawns, squid and mussels, alongside juicy cherry tomatoes, all covered in a delicious tomato and delicately spiced chilli sauce. I have actually eaten this dish here before (it’s one of my death row meal dishes so couldn’t resist) and love it most when accompanied with a few mussels in their shells resting on top. The polenta chips were delightfully crunchy and generously seasoned with oregano and Parmesan cheese. Even the kids couldn’t get enough of them.

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Linguine di Mare

My partner’s skate was crisp on the outside and silky soft underneath. Cooked to perfection with a light, yet unctuous caper butter, complimenting the fish. Dipping the salty fries into the golden butter was a guilty pleasure.

The kids’ meals of ham and olive pizza and breaded chicken and chips went down a treat. My son could eat pizza for England and was impressed by the size, thin crispy base and the generous toppings.  My partner had no chance stealing a slice!

The other kid’s meal consisted of a generous portion of breaded chicken which was both crispy and juicy and was enjoyed immensely by my daugther.

Finding room for dessert (as you do) we opted for a flourless chocolate hazelnut torte with vanilla ice cream and the Italian cheese plate.

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Flourless chocolate Torte

I couldn’t fault the chocolate torte as is was light, not too rich and absolutely loaded with delicious chunks of chopped hazelnuts. The ice cream was a perfect partner to the torte and complimented it in every way. Yum.

As part of the kid’s meal my son chose pistachio ice cream and my daughter strawberry. Both were huge and deliciously creamy and not too sweet.

At £9, the cheese plate didn’t blow us away as we felt it could have been a little more interesting but then my other half is a huge cheese lover and notoriously hard to please when it comes to cheese so the expectations were extremely high. This was one minor blip in what was a wonderfully enjoyable meal.

I have to mention Alessandra (our waitress) who is a real credit to the restaurant. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu, very attentive and accommodating, not to mention patient.

The fairy lights coming to life signaled it was time to leave.

With one child too satisfied to talk, the other dozing off and my partner waxing lyrical about the fish, I can deduce that Sanzio in the afternoon is as good as in the evening, albeit without the wine.

I hope you love Sanzio as much as we did.

26 Station Parade,
Willesden Green,
London NW2 4NH
Tel:+44 (0) 208 8305221

Opening hours: Mon – Thursday 12-3pm and 6-11pm. Friday and Saturday 12-11pm and Sunday 12-10.30pm.

Disclaimer: Sanzio offered QPM’s a complimentary meal for an honest review.

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