In terms of quality, the range from bog standard to excellent when it comes to Italian restaurants in London is massive. Aiming to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons, are Diciannove; a stylish Italian eatery and wine bar located within the Grade II-listed Crowne Plaza London, in the heart of Blackfriars.
As you’d obviously expect with its location, there’s a signature ‘hotel restaurant’ feel to this place, echoing the same level of sophistication as the rest of the building, but with that, Diciannove also has its own sleek style touches. With dark wooden tables and private booths, you’ll note the deep golds, purples, and the vast wine-wall display at the rear of the restaurant. It’s a long space and good-sized venue, but the candles, subtle hues and rich colours definitely give a nice intimate feel, even given its proximity to one of the busiest areas of London. Think less white table cloths and wine-bottle-dripping-candles, and more crisp Italian style, with modern touches and their own unique additions too.
The Food and Drink
The food at Diciannove was undoubtedly the star of the show, and this is where they really come into their own. You can see the menu is inspired by classic Italian flavours, but there’s nothing stuffy or unoriginal about the choices in front of you, instead, you’re presented with a varied choice of delicious plates, spanning big flavour combinations and interesting accompaniments.
For starters, I plumped for the small-plate risotto with king scallops, fresh peas and pancetta (£11), while my date opted for the tagliatelle with minced beef and pork ragout (£8). They were both beautifully presented, and though the risotto was slightly under-seasoned, the flavours coming through both plates were clever, bold and punchy; a really nice start to the dinner. For mains - after ordering a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc - I then chose the lamb cutlets with grilled peppers, apricots and spinach (£25), whilst my date went for the slow-cooked pork belly, sautéed fresh peas, apples and cider sauce (£17.50). The lamb was perfectly cooked, gorgeously-presented and the apricots really elevated the dish. The same has to be said for the pork belly; it was real melt-in-your-mouth meat with perfectly balanced flavours. Price-wise, though it’s certainly not cheap, the standard of food here really is very high, so it’s worth every penny. They’re clearly not afraid to take risks with the cuisine, but it still rings of classic Italian high-end dining. The desserts are equally as good, comprising fresh, hearty and again, aesthetically-pleasing plates.
Another thing that really stood out at Diciannove was the great service. From the moment you walk in, you’re well looked after by attentive, knowledgeable and friendly staff who really add to the experience. Full of suggestions on the menu, the service on the night was seamless.
Though this restaurant and wine bar leans more toward the classic and authentic side, rather than quirky or out-there, it’s actually a really good spot for any number of occasions. They have large round tables, ideal for bigger groups or special occasions, but there’s also space for smaller gatherings and couples, and if you’re looking for a place to host a private party, they have a spacious dining room available for hire just off the restaurant.
If you’re in search of a solid and relaxing restaurant with beautiful food; Diciannove is a good choice. The ambience is relaxed, the service is great, and the menu doesn’t disappoint. There are plenty of stuffy choices for food in this neck of the woods, but this Italian eatery certainly isn’t one of them.