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Hai Cenato (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Italian Victoria
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Jason Atherton’s casual Italian-American joint, in Victoria’s new Nova development.

Hai Cenato calls itself a pizzeria. But actually, it’s EBP (everything but pizza) you should order. It’s food to kick back with. There’s even a joyously calorific twist on an ice-cream sandwich: a still-warm toasted brioche bun with silky, decadent salted caramel gelato inside.

The best two dishes showed off the kitchen’s pedigree. Hai Cenato is part of Jason Atherton’s empire, he of Social Eating House, Sosharu and so on. A delicate dish of seabass crudo (as in raw) came with shimmering morsels of blood orange, sprigs of dill and celery, cut mandolin-thin and on the diagonal. Someone’s got skills. Further proof: a tumble of freshly cooked corzetti (flat, round, embossed pasta discs) with a beautifully intense bolognese. On top: deep-fried sage leaves and fresh grated sheep’s cheese. Equally brimming with flavour – though the pasta could have had more bite – was a bowl of casarecce (short, freeform ‘twists’) with tiny, juicy clams; buttery, garlicky breadcrumbs; and slivers of bitter etrog (a lemon of sorts).

But, oh dear, the pizza. I’m like Meghan Trainor: all about the base. It should either be thin and crispy, its sole purpose to act as a vehicle for an avalanche of toppings; or deep, doughy and delicious, so moreish that you could – and should – eat it naked. Here, the bases were the worst of both worlds: thick but tasteless, the type where you leave all your crusts on the side. Toppings were fine, but not enough to save the show.

Happily, the vibe is laidback. In fact, of all the restaurants in Victoria’s spanking new Nova development, this has so far come the closest, with its rap-and-funk soundtrack and low lighting, to help diners forget the steel-and-glass surroundings. So if you’re with friends in SW1 and hankering for Italian, say Hai Cenato (‘have you eaten?’) and give it a whirl.

VIDEO: What to eat and drink at Hai Cenato in Victoria


Address: The Nova Building
77 Buckingham Palace Rd
Transport: Tube: Victoria
Price: . Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £100.
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