One of Soho’s most well-loved restaurants since the 1970s closed yesterday — appearing to be the latest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic rent crisis in London.
Vasco and Piero’s Pavilion, an Italian restaurant which served an Umbrian-inspired menu and fresh pasta (senza hype) from 15 Poland Street since 1971, announced on Instagram yesterday that its days were numbered — that it needed to find a new home. Paul Matteucci, son of Vasco and the business’ current owner, said on Twitter that the team “will be back”; he was unable to say where or when.
“We are not here to wow, just serve good Italian food based on our Umbrian heritage,” is the message which has for many years been splashed across its website.
In the fresh pasta discourse of the post-Padella years — one that has gripped London and drawn inexplicably long queues — it has been easy to forget that there was a whole class of restaurant, like Vasco and Piero’s, which did this not for the likes and follows but for regular and not-so-regular customers first and foremost. Business is business, and getting people to come to a restaurant in any era comes with its challenges — so fair game to the spaghetti-pullers of Instagram — but fresh pasta did not arrive in London in 2016.
Vasco and Piero’s comparatively unpretentious and humble approach has for years drawn plaudits from restaurant critics, chefs, and restaurateurs alike. As recently as 2017, when then at the Guardian, Sunday Times restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin wrote, “this Soho old timer is rammed. No fireworks, no dishes created for social media, no mouthy chefs, no wonder it is such a success.”
It was a favourite of the likes of Florence Knight, who opened Polpetto, and Russell Norman, the co-founder of Polpo. The Evening Standard’s former, long-serving restaurant critic Fay Maschler counted it among her central London go-tos.
According to one observer yesterday, the closure is a result of a rent dispute. On Twitter, long-time patron, Giles Fraser said: “Landlord wouldn’t budge on the rent. Will miss Paul and all the family. So bloody sad. Thank you for all the great times.”
Eater London has contacted the owners of Vasco and Piero’s Pavilion and the property management company representing the landlord for comment.