MELANIE ITALIAN RESTAURANT IS A MUST-VISIT FOR THE PASTA
Amidst the scores of restaurants on Old Compton Street is Melanie Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, where the food looks delicious and tastes even better. Melanie’s, which serves pastas, pizzas, insalate, and desserts, is comfortable and comforting all at once. The carbonara and tiramisu are highlights on a vast menu.
Melanie Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, 4-6 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TB. Phone: 020 7437 4006
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It’s dark outside, but there is a near constant stream of people passing by, their faces warmly illuminated by the lights of the restaurant for a few moments as they rush by on their harried ways through the winding streets of London. Melanie’s, in contrast, seems to exist in its own charming bubble, full of light and laughter in the most literal ways.
In our quest for food after a day spent in bookstores, we are drawn to it instantly: the wood panelled front and large lit up sign with the words “Melanie Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria”. Through the windows, we can see a network of tables, overflowing with families, being expertly navigated by sharply dressed waiters balancing large portions of steaming hot food. Somebody leaves and a flow of chatter interspersed with laughter comes through the open door. But what seals our fate on this cold night is not any of this but what we see being placed before the elderly couple seated by the window, the one thing necessary to make our weary and wandering day complete: pasta.
There’s bacon and egg and Parmesan and cream, cream, cream, and I’m pretty sure I have entered a new state of nirvana previously unknown to humanity.
We walk in – because damn if that pasta didn’t look good – and are immediately embraced by a lovely warmth that seeps down to our bones. We are quickly ushered to a small little table for two in the corner with an ample view of what everyone else is ordering. A small family at the table next to ours is sharing a pizza that appears to be a Quattro Formaggi, but when I look up at my friend, puppy-dog eyes in place, she is already shaking her head no, and a little piece of my heart breaks. I sigh but am quickly distracted as a waiter passes our table carrying the most delicious looking carbonara I have ever seen. There’s bacon and egg and Parmesan and cream, cream, cream, and I’m pretty sure I have entered a new state of nirvana previously unknown to humanity.
“Dibs!” I claim the carbonara. My friend finally chooses the lasagne, and we settle back to wait for our food. The atmosphere in here may, perhaps, be best described as comfortable and comforting at the same time. My friend and I are soon absorbed in conversation, debating books and politics and reminiscing over our childhoods. A waiter, who smiles at our startled faces as he places our giant bowls of food before us, interrupts us. He offers us some extra Parmesan – yes, please – and leaves us to our meals. My bowl is a sea of cream and cheese and a little bit of pepper. Hers is a huge baked dish covered in golden-brown melted cheese with hints of a rich tomato sauce peeking around the edges. She cuts through her lasagne, layers of pasta, cheese, meat and buttery sauce. Over wine and conversation, we slowly make our way through our meal. The hours begin to wane and still we sit, and somewhere in there I begin to know that if I could, I’d be back here for almost every meal until I’ve eaten every item on their menu at least thrice. This knowledge is only confirmed when they bring us a large slice of tiramisu for dessert. After my first spoonful of cream and coffee and chocolate, I know I have found my reason to live. So, we order another, just because.
When we finally settle back, unable to eat another crumb, a waiter comes by with two small shot glasses of limoncello for us, on the house. Suddenly, we both find just a little corner of space left somewhere within us. He stops to chat, and we exchange stories of our homes: his in Italy, ours in India. It takes us a little while to gather up the energy to actually get up, but even as we exit back into the cold night air, there is a warmth radiating from within us that won’t quite dissipate, all the way home.
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