Sebastian Snow is a true veteran of the west London restaurant scene. In 1994, he launched “Snows on the Green’ (on Brook Green), which – in those admittedly less competitive days – generated much press interest. He then made an ill-fated expansion into Barnes (the short-lived “Snows on the Pond’), heralding a period of decline.

However, unlike many chef/patrons who hit a rough patch, he stuck it out. Snows on the Green has gradually re-emerged as a linchpin of its neighbourhood. Then in late-2005, with little in the way of press and PR, Snow opened this new Italian five minutes’ walk from his HQ.

It’s nice, for once, to be able to review a packed and buzzing restaurant before it’s been picked-over by every other pundit in town. The lively setting here is certainly both cosy and inviting, and a smiling welcome from our Scottish waitress helped set the seal on a favourable first impression.

The inviting Italian wine list arrived shortly thereafter and – as it turned out – a couple of gluggable and well-priced bottles of red (one Valpolicella, one from Sicily) were to be amongst the highlights of the evening.

Next up was a long, enticing menu, on which pizza and pasta predominate. Seeking adventure, we plumped instead for the daily specials. Antipasti went down well, in particular cruditées with bagna caoda (a hot anchovy dip). Main courses (various fish dishes) were all something of a blank, though – not terrible, but featureless. Dessert saved the day, in particular a huge and moreish banana and chocolate pizza, which made us all wish we’d stuck to the more obvious (and economical) main-course options.

So The River Café need not sweat: it remains in poll position as Hammersmith’s pre-eminent Italian. But for west Londoners seeking an affordable rendezvous, this is a very useful arrival.

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