Take a wine barrel full of irrepressible Italian charm, add an endearing pinch of comedic service and top it off with some seriously impressive food and apparently you have the recipe for a great dining experience. The fun starts when trying to order a drink at the bar and goes something along the lines of:
Me: Do you have a cocktail list?
Restaurant Manager: No, but our bar tender knows everything, so just ask him and he’ll make it.
Me (to the bar tender): Can you do me a Sazerac?
Bar tender: [blank look and shrug of shoulders, says something in Italian]
Me: OK, how about a Champagne cocktail?
Bar tender: [another blank look and shrug of shoulders whilst saying something in Italian]
Me: [Pointing to my friends Apple martini], OK, I’ll just have one of those [drink arrives shortly]
Anyway, despite the lack of communication being a general theme throughout the evening, everything we order is just delicious (including the Apple martini!). The credit here goes to Head Chef Omar Agostini, previously at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, who has put together a menu of regional and modern Italian dishes, many inspired by his family background in Rome.
Starters include the now ubiquitous super-gooey Burrata with flavour pack marinated courgettes; a thoroughly authentic ‘Il vitello tonnato’ (thinly sliced veal loin with tuna sauce); and tender Porchetta style rabbit with shallots. Pasta dishes are successful too, with a wonderful fresh flavour. Mains include a selection of beautifully cooked meat and fish dishes, including Beef sirloin with foie gras and Monkfish stew with clams & mussels. If all that sounds like too much, then I would suggest that you remember to save room for dessert. ‘La zuppa inglese all’Italiana’ (a kind of Italian trifle) is one of London’s most unique and downright moreish desserts; made with rich egg custard, boozy finger biscuits and a meringue like topping, it’s one of those that you just can’t stop eating, even after your trouser belt has popped. Similarly, the Coffee & Valrhona chocolate layered cake is a must for the sweet-toothed.
The venue too is like a classy slice of Italy in London. Situated on a street corner, the large window frontage affords plenty of natural light, whilst the art deco lighting further adds to the continental style. Most impressive is the free-standing red hand-slicer and marble-topped charcuterie station that sits in the centre of the room and is used to provide guests with a selection of salumi and cheese.
Cuisine style: Italian
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £85
96 Draycott Avenue
London SW3 3AD
Tel: 020-7225 2555