Just a short meander away from the sleek shopfronts of the Kings Road, Cinquecento is a smart, neighbourhood spot serving up some of the finest slices in Chelsea. Neapolitan to the core, their pizzas come bearing those puffy, leopard-print crusts that get some of us a little hot under the collar, so the chance to chow down on them was one not to be missed.
The foliage-filled dining room is subdued when we arrive on a Thursday evening around 7pm. Due to it being just that little bit further afield from Chelsea’s chief strip, Cinquecento picks up its custom - primarily local livers and workers - a little later into the evening. Within an hour the place is bustling though, with large groups, couples, families and a very fine pair of Springer Spaniels.
Service here is friendly and efficient, no sooner have we ordered our starters than they’re winging their way over to us. A dinky offering of salsiccia e friarielli (£7.50) arrives for me. Deceptively small, this plate packs as much flavour as a dish twice its size, the salty salsiccia made all the meatier next to the silky strands of friarielli.
Cinquecento is also home to a nicely sized vegan selection. While their starters may not boast the most inspiring options for meat-free eaters - you can have bruschetta, bruschetta or, erm, bruschetta - they more than make up for it with the mains. I’ve bought a vegan friend tonight, and from what I can discern between her gobfuls of aubergine-stuffed calzone (£13), they seem to be impressing on the plant-based pizza front.
My own pizza contains exactly zero plants. I’ve opted for the Romagnola (£14), a move that elicits nods of approval from the waitress and the warning that it can be a challenge to finish it. I’m not too worried about that; my ability to dispose of huge amounts of food is very impressive and, frankly, quite disgusting. I can appreciate where she’s coming from though; the pistachio pesto base is sweet, fragrant and very rich, topped with piles of mortadella ham and a whole wobbly ball of burrata. The crusts live up to their looks; light and chewy and the ultimate vessel for transporting burrata innards from plate to mouth.
For the quality on offer, not to mention the well-heeled location, Cinquecento is surprisingly affordable. While it might just miss the ‘budget-friendly’ bracket, if you consider that a two-minute walk away Pizza Express Kings Road is peddling much more pedestrian slices for loftier sums it makes coughing up £15 for the good stuff very reasonable.
Potentially one of Chelsea’s best kept secrets, Cinquecento is matching charm and top-drawer eats to carve out a delicious taste of Naples in West London’s most exclusive enclave. For chilled date nights, intimate birthdays or a post-shopping refuel, there’s few places in the area offering quite the same levels of satisfaction.
You can visit Cinquecento at 1 Cale Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 3QT everyday from 12pm-10.30pm. Looking for more pizza picks? Check out our round up of the city's best slices.