Angela Hartnett, one of Gordon Ramsay’s original lieutenants (see also: Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton), opened this smart W1 Italian with Ramsay back in 2008, quickly picking up a Michelin star and buying out Ramsay’s share two years later. It’s Mayfair-swish, but not stuffy. Though there’s an elegant colour scheme – all tones of mushroom and oatmeal – with plush carpet underfoot and raw linen on tables, the lighting is also flatteringly low, the tables widely spaced (so there’s no need to whisper), and the wooden sides of the leather armchairs comfortably worn.
As for the food, it’s outstanding. Red meat and pasta are strengths: from slices of venison with crushed cabbage, an intense jus and a copper pan of cheesy gnocchi, to beautifully al dente parcels of tortellini in a nutmeg-speckled parmesan sauce. On a recent visit, the star dish was a pecorino ‘fondue’: baby potatoes cooked three ways, then set on the edge of a silky pool of cheese, scattered with caramelised leeks and crisp balsamic onion.
The menu is refreshingly flexible: you choose anything from two to five courses from across the individual section (pasta, fish, meat etc). And even if you go for the cheapest option, you’ll get all the same freebies: exquisite amuse-bouche, three kinds of bread and a plate of cured meat to kick off, plus pre-dessert (a dinky tiramisu, say) and a plate of petits fours (like chocolate fudge and biscotti) to finish. Just don’t go in a hurry: service can be slooooow.