Stop in the Name of Princi
March 13, 2010
LONDON, UK – The Milanese bakery sensation Princi boasts in nome del pane as its motto, translated as “in the name of bread.” And really, why not? Second only to love, delicious homemade bread is one of the more compelling motivations this life has to offer.
Alan Yau (he of Hakkasan and Busaba Eathai renown) is responsible for importing a branch of the wildly successful bakery direct from Milan, where Rocco Princi pioneered a new concept of panetteria that was just as popular for morning coffee as it was for a post-work glass of wine. The concept translates nicely in Soho, where everyone from office workers and tourists to cool twentysomethings and nannies with hungry charges passes through.
On a recent visit, I found myself smack in the middle of this charming chaos, complete with customers queuing out the door for counter-service-only ordering and then jockeying for seats at the long communal tables. Wide glass counters display the mouthwatering baked treats, which range from hearty boules to delicate patisserie. Further offerings include pizzas and sandwiches, along with Italian coffee and a small selection of wines.
Hard as it is, you simply must decide what you want before you get in line to order. I learned a smidge too late that there are separate registers for drinks, sweets, and savories — so no last-minute-inspiration ordering is possible here. Commit, and then get thee to the proper queue.
Once I’d secured my treats and a spot at a table (no easy feat), I was able to tune out the chaos and soak up the soothing atmosphere. Radiating warm earth tones, the space is wrapped in rosy tiles and lit with cozy glowing lamps. Though it was birthed in the fashion epicenter of the world (Giorgio Armani allegedly designed the bakery’s staff uniforms), Princi is decidedly casual — anything from jeans and t-shirt upwards will do just fine. For a yummy, quick bite, it’s hard to improve upon. Well, except perhaps for more seating and a more organized counter system.
But what of this much-fussed-about bread? Beech-oven-fired and made with organic wholemeal flour, it’s ridiculously fresh and fabulous. The olive bread, especially, is to die for. Just be sure to bring along some dough of your own — it’s cash only. Mangia!
Learn more about Princi on The Purple Passport