My first visit to the Imperial, this visit highlighted a pet theory; the more prone the porch staff are to loud chatter and imperious glances, the older the hotel. True enough, the gaggle of loud, little Lord Fauntleroys at the porch indubitably confirmed the status of the Imperial Hotel as an institution in the city. Having said that, entering San Gimignano was mildly startling; it was so simply done in tones of wood and greenish leather, I could not but recall fond times spent in the dining rooms at the Madras Gymkhana Club amidst similar surroundings. Simple covers, minimal linen and cutlery, with options for al fresco or indoor seating existing nicely with helpful if slightly talkative service are what you can expect at San Gimignano, along with, hearty Tuscan fare of course!
I do wish my first visit involved the regular menu and not a promotion, but then, if wishes were pennies, I’d own me a railroad company.
A small menu with four or five options on it, is all the promotion is about. That’s a good thing, because it enables us to experience a chef’s creativity more often than if a promotional menu were a tome. If the chefs are the sort they hire at San Gimignano, then that’s fortunate indeed, because the pizzas were really quite nice.
Before beginning on the pizzas, I asked for a soup, a Parmesan soup, drizzled with white truffle oil (750). Served with a basket of good bread and a little bowl of good olive oil, the soup was probably one of the nicest I’ve eaten in quite a while. Light enough to be nearly a foam it blended the easily felt pleasures of Parmesan with the rich, dense and mushroomy notes of the truffle oil; served in a double handled bowl and eaten with hunks of bread torn off and dunked in olive oil, the soup was a lovely lunch in itself.
Now, the pizzas.
I recall trying three pizzas – Vegan (950), Spanish (1050) and French (1250). Let’s start with the French; this was the first time I ate a pizza with Brie on it! Topped with chunks of duck crackling, brie, walnut and apple (+cream cheese, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, basil, thyme, rosemary, mozzarella), this one was unusual pizza that, for some reason made me think of a Waldorf Salad! Creamy Brie, meaty duck, crunchy walnuts and tangy & sweet apple all on a thin crust pizza base; you see what I mean? Delicious! The Mediterranean pizza was a little predictable; Parmesan cheese, grilled aubergine & courgette (+tomato, peppers, onions, thyme, rosemary, mozzarella) and flavored with basil leaves this one was predictably tasty too! Finally, Spanish, with Chorizo (+tomato, chicken, peppers, onions, garlic, coriander, ricotta, thyme, mozzarella) dorning the grilled surface of the pizza, with a mildly charred crust from the wood fired oven, it was a sure winner too.
There we have it. Ignoring the large chunks of duck that I would have preferred smaller and evenly distributed across the pizza, we have concrete evidence of the presence of awesome pizzas at the Imperial, that despite the price of the soup appear to be priced well within most of our comfort zones. Go for it folks; they’re available till the 15th of Feb and it’ll be a while before these pizzas appear elsewhere.