La Famiglia is located on a little side street just north of that part of the King's Road known as The World's End; it's also accessible from the Fulham Road as it sits behind the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, down Limerston Street and to the right. It's been going since 1966. We last visited it a few years ago and found it rather unimpressive. More recently, a friend told me he went there regularly for lunch, as it was near to his office; it was good enough, he implied, but not great! So I was pleased that some friends gave us the opportunity to try it out again this September. We sat in one of the two ground floor rooms, which are fresh and attractive with white tablecloths and black and white framed photographs on the walls. The service was smart, the waiters were experienced middle-aged Latin men speaking accented Italian. But my dinner was a disappointment. While the three others in our party had ordered very simple starters and main courses, for example tomato and mozzarella salad, tagliolini in garlic and butter, and grilled veal and sea bass, I had opted for melanzane parmigiana followed by breast of chicken in a truffle sauce. My starter was a solid square lump of the consistency of soft rubber. It seemed to have been pre-cooked and then re-heated in the microwave, because all the evidence of the aubergine had disappeared and the dish was piping hot in parts and rather cool in others. There were no crisp or once-crisp vegtables, just a mush of stuff with a very salty Parmesan taste. I hoped for better with my chicken, but was again unhappy with the result. The breast had apparently been poached before being covered in a vast amount of heavy white sauce. Yes, there was a strong taste of truffles, but this was not the subtle and delicious fare I had been expecting when I placed my order. It sat badly on the stomach and I slept poorly that night. I had ordered spinach, but my neighbour had said that he preferred fried zucchini. Perhaps it was our fault that the waiter brought the latter but not the former, but perhaps the waiter had not been paying attention. Anyway, the zucchini were excellent. We passed on the desserts and had coffees and teas.Together with a bottle of red Cannonau and mineral water, the bill came to £173 for four, plus tip. My advice, in short, is to keep your order simple - that way, you should enjoy a perfectly acceptable Italian meal in pleasant surroundings and avoid the microwave.
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