From spring to autumn, well-heeled locals in the know seem to book Manicomio’s solid alfresco tables overlooking the Duke of York Square shopping precinct, leaving the main dining room to late-comers. The extensive terrace, not to mention the numerous patio heaters, helps create the impression of being on holiday in Italy, just a stone’s throw from the manic King’s Road traffic.
The food stays firmly within the guiding principles of Italian cooking while also introducing some appealing and thoughtful innovations. Roasted beetroot ravioli are served with ricotta, marjoram and burnt butter. Grilled octopus salad comes with a garnish of panzanella, the classic Tuscan salad made from tomatoes and stale bread. A side dish of peas is mixed with samphire. Modern-style crediting of breeds and sources appears on the menu – something of a rarity in Italian restaurants. Prices are fairly high both here and at the branch in the City, but no higher than you would expect from a place in either area. Wines from the south of Italy and the islands are the most affordable option.
The café next door offers simpler fare for breakfast and lunch.