Prezzo, High St.


A pseudo-Italian chain restaurant located at the heart of Exeter.  All a bit ‘meh’

202 High Street, Exeter, EX4 3EB – 01392 477739
This restaurant occupies one of the oldest sites in Exeter; there has been a building here since the 12th century. Some historians claim that there has been an inn here since around that time too.  There is comprehensive history of the building over on Demolition Exeter, which summarises it’s history rather well.

In 2005 it stopped being a pub and, unfortunately, turned into a bland pseudo-Italian chain restaurant that we know…and some love.  We had a voucher for Prezzo’s we had been given a while back, so we thought it about time to spend it.

The last time I was in this building was attending a school reunion soon after I had finished uni over ten years ago.  Gone are the carpets, no bar area, just the modern expanse of clean tiled floors, modernist furniture and large jars of pickled vegetables arranged in a ‘so-modern-yet-ironic’ fashion on the wall as you walk in.

A cheery Italian lady brought us to a nice table for two that we had booked, we sat down and read through the menu.  It was, as you might expect a generic ‘Italian’ menu similar to those you might get at Bella Italia or ASK.  Lots of items written in Italian, so to avoid embarrassment, one just has to point at it when ordering.

The prices were restaurant average. Lots of items were about £10 or just over, others were more.  It was a wide varying selection with lots of items you would expect to be there (pasta, pizzas etc.) and a burger option too.

And so we chose our food, we waited for a bit. Tori had finished deciding what she had wanted and we both put our menus down and waited.  Whether I am just spoilt at having been to so many awesome places with excellent service, but surely we should have had some sort of drinks order taken at the very least by this point? Ten minutes in and no-one seemed to be rushing to take our order.

In the end I had to try and get the attention of one of the servers, which seemed hard itself just to have our order taken.  I know it was a Saturday night, but the ratio of service to table was quite high, and there were quite a few empty tables.

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I went for the Il Carltoni (£12.19) a Pepperoni, seasoned chicken, pancetta, peppers, pomodoro sauce and their blend of cheese.  Tori went for the Roasted Pork Belly with green beans, mushrooms, broccoli and marsala wine sauce. Served with garlic and rosemary mashed potato (£14.19).  We ordered some soft drinks which were marked up to the hilt.

The winner of the evening was Tori’s Pork Belly (which I don’t have photos for!)  It was well cooked, very tender and there wasn’t too much of it.  There was very little fat, and she commented that it was definitely one of the best pieces of meat she’d had for a while.

My Il Carltoni was, overall, alright. But thin on the ground with the filling but with a soft well cooked dough.  The seasoned chicken tasted cheap and the pepperoni tasted pretty cheap too.

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The salad that came with it wasn’t fresh, it was browning at the edges slightly.  But it was still edible and quite nice with the dipping sauce drizzled (by drizzled I mean drenched) across it.  My memory of this dish was one I had last in ASK and there was a lot more inside.

We left quickly after we had finished our meal as we were heading off to the cinema. Before this we were badgered to have a dessert and then after we’d told our server that we had to leave promptly, yet he insisted with have coffee…*facepalm*

Some readers might have different experiences of this restaurant.  You might find that the restaurant experience is impeccable and the food was gorgeous.  But I didn’t, and I cannot find it in my heart to give it a recommended status on Eating Exeter.

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Chain restaurants have their place, and Exeter has quite a few of them.  Many diners like the consistency, some enjoy the experience that many chains offer and Exeter is definitely a city with many larger restaurant names like Jamie’s Italian, ASK and Prezzos.

But after pleasant ‘would-go-again’ experiences at the hands of Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge, it puts the Prezzo in its place in terms of the service and quality of the food.  With high quality names moving in to Queen St. Dining just around the corner, they will need to up their game in the face of the tough competition if our experience was anything to go by.

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Author: Chris

He may look very complicated, but he is in fact very simple. He runs on sausages and beer. Co-founder of Eating Exeter. Librarian at Exeter College.

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