A Covent Garden veteran - one of the first determinedly modern Italian restaurants in London.
Established in 1985, Orso was one of the very first restaurants in the modernising of London's Italian restaurant scene. Instead of the old-fashioned trattoria with candles in a round-bellied Chianti bottle and heavy sauces on everything, the emphasis turned to highlighting ingredients through relatively simple treatment in the kitchen.
Thirty years on and that approach still dominates. Expect, then, antipasti such as vitello tonnato (roast veal with tuna dressing and fried capers) and buffalo mozzarella with slow-roast plum tomato, basil and aged balsamic leading into pasta dishes including asparagus and ricotta ravioli with mascarpone, lemon zest, petit pois and mint, and linguine al granchio - made with crab, garlic, parsley, chilli and lime.
Secondi options range from roast pork belly with cabbage and an olive oil mash to calf's liver, fillet steaks, fish specials and branzino - a dish of herb crusted sea bass fillet served with green beans, crushed potatoes and a sun-dried tomato butter. Desserts keep things traditional too - think affogato, panna cotta and an authentic tiramisu.
27 Wellington Street
|Opening hours:||Noon-midnight daily.|
|Transport:||Tube: Covent Garden tube|
|Price:||Main courses £12.95-£27.50. Set meal (noon-6.15pm daily) £16.75 2 courses, £19.50 3 courses incl coffee.|
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Average User Rating
3.2 / 5
- 5 star:1
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:1
I walk past this restaurant everyday and I wondered what was actually happening behind the doors, down the stairs. We had our Christmas dinner party there this week, and I must say that I wasn't disappointed!
As I am half italian I am always very picky when it comes to Italian restaurants. This one offers a very nice menu, with specialties beyond spaghetti bolognese and pizza. Apart from the traditional banquet-style italian meal options (starters, pasta, main, dessert), the menu is original yet has all Italian food favourites.
We ordered starters such as octopus carpaccio, calamari fritti and a veal dish in tuna sauce. All very good!
The truffle pasta was a big hit for the team, including me. It's a shame the truffle on top was grated and not cut in thin slices, but it was still good.
The dessert menu is nice but not enough Italian choices in my opinion. However, their selection of dessert cocktails is worth it! The salted caramel martini is a must.
The ambiance is nice with low lights, just a bit noisy (I guess you can't really find a quiet place at dinner time right next to the Lyceum Theatre) - some chilled music could work!
I would recommend this restaurant and will probably go again, although for the price it's not an everyday spot!
This restaurant has changed hands and is now serving keenly priced, delicious food in an enjoyable atmosphere. Difficult to find such good quality at such reasonable prices in this area full of tourist traps.
We must have hit Orso on a bad night. My wife's grilled Saddle of Lamb was so tough I couldn't cut it with my knife. The waiter did have the grace to take it off the bill. The wine I ordered never arrived (except on the bill). Overall we felt the food was ordinary and the service desultory - particularly annoying since there were only three tables occupied. The ambience is pleasant enough - maybe we'll try again and have better luck on our next trip to London.