Though just around the corner from the swanky Bulgari Hotel, Osteria Romana is an unassuming, intimate spot. The interiors are simple and tasteful: terracotta walls, dim lighting, clean lines and pots of fresh basil on each table. When you arrive, they’ll even snip off a few leaves, to muddle them with the excellent olive oil, then serve it all with a steaming bread basket.
The all-Italian waiting staff added to the sense of tradition. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply and you’d think you were on Via del Corso. Like the staff, most of the ingredients are imported straight from Rome. The food is rich: fluffy, handmade gnocchi coated in moreish black truffle sauce, or a signature cacio e pepe – pasta with all-the-rage pecorino and black pepper – with butteriness and bite in all the right amounts. If you’re a meat lover, don’t skip the tender lamb chops, which come served with velvety mashed potatoes and crunchy leeks. The food simultaneously feels worth the heady price tags while retaining a wistful air of mama’s simple cooking.
The bill can definitely add up, especially if you’re sampling the all-Italian wine list, but dessert is always there to help soothe any fiscal panic. Top tip: get a portion of the pistachio gelato. It was so exceptionally creamy that I was very tempted to lick the bowl. But I didn’t. This is Knightsbridge after all.