Sunday, March 4, 2012
E. Pellicci has been on Bethnal Green Road since 1900. During its heyday, it served as an operating base for the Kray Twins. Pellicci started out as an ice-cream parlor, and evolved into a cafe serving home-cooked Italian and English food. With its formica tables, and deco-paneled walls, its heaping plates of steak and kidney pie & jam roly poly, going there is like a sensory return to childhood. The nice thing about Pellicci's though, is that it's not one of those sad museum-like places that hover on the brink of extinction, or a fictionalized parody of the past. Pellicci's is really busy, with a brisk walk-in and sit-down trade, and a heartening cross-section of customers. Though it's very well known these days, Pellicci's still belongs firmly to its neighborhood, and feels neither anachronistic nor a victim to hipster chic. Thank God for that. While I ate a mammoth portion of shepherd's pie, the young guys next to me were giving Ellis, a skinny kid of ten or old, a slightly unconvincing talk on the value of schoolwork. Ellis looked bemused. On the other side an old man with scraggly yellow-white hair mulled over a crossword and shoveled in mash. At a table behind me, Tinie Tempah's manager was holding court. All around, hustle and talk. The place was warm with the steamy, muggy smells of gravy and custard. The tea was dark brown. I could have stayed forever. The ringing of the bell as the food from the kitchen was ready to be served, the jokes and joshes of the staff, switching in a second from Italian to English. Nev, son of the patriach Nevio, who passed away in 2008, made time in a very hectic afternoon to come over, chat, offer free bread pudding, & make me feel incredibly welcome. I became more homesick than I'd thought possible.
I didn't want to take photographs inside. It seemed stupid. But here's a picture montage, and an interview with the late Nevio Sr.