Friday 8 July 2011

Soho Spaghetti

I was a little late on this one, but last week saw the death of Mario Cassandro, London restaurateur and arguably a man who changed the British palate with his authentic Italian trattoria in Soho, Terrazzo.

For the first time in sixties London, he served authentic pasta, in an informal atmosphere, and made it popular. In a London still used to rationing and Brown Windsor soup, he couldn't really fail.

Alastair Scott Sutherland wrote about his impact in the excellent book The Spaghetti Tree, to which Len Deighton wrote the forward. It recounts how Cassandro literally changed everything about eating out: mood, menu, waiting, dress code, wine.

In the sixties it was the place to be seen - a social nexus. Len Deighton and David Bailey were early patrons. Deighton wrote portions of his first book here, and was introduced to his great friend Michael Caine here too.

And famously, Deighton referenced it in The Ipcress File, giving the restaurant a great bit of PR:

"In London with a beautiful girl, one must show her to Mario at la Terrazza," says our unnamed hero!

Listen to it while you can on Radio 4's The Last Word obituary programme.

The Telegraph also carries a nice obituary. as does The Guardian.

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