No words fill British theatregoers with more dread than ‘audience participation’. We need an orchestra pit, a screen, or a hazmat suit in between us and the talent. As a friend of ours once put it: ’I paid someone to perform - are they going to pay me to perform too?’. But there is one restaurant in London where we actually enjoy getting pulled into the theatrics happening around us, and that’s E. Pellicci.
E. Pellicci can only be described as a living breathing situational comedy, where the situation is an authentic East End cafe, and you’re one of the main characters, whether you like it or not. You’re definitely going to like it.
This small cafe opened in 1900 and has been run by one family of Italian immigrants ever since. Nevio is the current owner/manager, while his mum still works in the kitchen and the rest of the family work the front of house. It’s definitely one of those ‘if only the walls could talk’ places because it seems everyone who has ever had a Cockney accent, including the whole cast of Eastenders and the Kray twins, has eaten here.
Nevio is the king of banter and he’s on point every time. You’ll be asked where you’re from (be specific), and he’ll tell you how much he loves it there - even though he’s ‘never been’. He’ll ask about your marital status - and if you happen to be single, some impromptu matchmaking will happen with another poor soul who has also revealed their singledom to him. If you’re there as a couple, you might be asked ‘Is this a Tinder date?’. You might then be asked to sing happy birthday to ‘Bri-bantia’. You will join in. ’Do you know why we call him Bri-bantia? ‘cause he eats the leftovers off of everyone’s plate - like a dustbin’. All of this - and it’s only 8.42am.
The food is all about comfort. They serve some fairly epic fry-ups, which include the long-forgotten, much-loved, heart disease-inducing fried bread. The rest of the menu is made up of old school Italian classics, including a lasagna that is likely to put you into a deep coma. Don’t come if you’re vegan or vegetarian - this place is not for you. Or actually, do come - it’ll make for great banter for everyone else there.
There are many places that serve a Full English. What makes E. Pellicci’s stand out is the fried bread. A glorious piece of bread, fried in some sort of animal fat that coats your throat on the way down. Oh god, this probably should be banned - it’s too good.
This is large, incredibly rich, and creamy. Make sure you head straight for a nap afterwards.
‘You shitbag! My mum hand cut those’. Nevio’s gentle reminder to never leave a chip behind.
Their sandwiches are as hearty as everything else on the menu and great for when you’re in an actual rush. But still have time for a quick joke or two.
This is not on the menu, but it’s always available. You can grab a piece to take home and have with a cup of tea. Or if you’re able to break the laws of physics, you should order it with custard as a dessert after your meal. The custard is Bird’s - so all those childhood memories come flooding back. Good times.