Because, in my eyes, Italian food is seriously top tier, I’m always on the lookout for new restaurants slinging out my favourite fare. I’d heard the San Carlo group had opened an eatery, and after glazing my hungry eyes over the menu, I knew that a visit to Cichetti in Knightsbridge was in order.
As a South London gal, Knightsbridge is a bit of a bop away. It’s actually a corner of the city I’ve rarely visited – it’s a bit bougie for my bank balance, to be honest. But there I went, past Harrods and the snazzy sports cars, into this cute and cosy trattoria. You can’t deny that the San Carlo group has style: each and every one of its branches oozes elegance and sophistication, and this was certainly no exception. Decked out with unique chandeliers, abstract artworks and leafy adornments, it had a trendy Art Deco vibe about it.
The menu was incredibly expansive, toting a range of starter-type dishes, alongside pasta, pizza, meat and fish, served cicchetti-style (like Venetian tapas, basically). We were advised by our waiter to choose four to five dishes between two and to order as and when, because everything is served as soon as it's ready.
But before we dived into the grub, we kicked things off with a couple of cocktails; my dinner date opted for the Old Fashioned Don Salvatore (£12.50), a sweet and smoky melody of Woodford Reserve, Averna, maraschino liqueur and chocolate bitters, while I sipped on the Tutti al Mare (£12.50). Made up of Grey Goose vanilla vodka, Passoa, lemon juice, orange, apple juice and a fruity foam, it was a bit like an upmarket pornstar martini – sweet like candy, with a sour passionfruit kick.
As there’s so much to choose from, we were a little torn when deciding on our dishes. But first up, we went with a plate of bruschetta (£5.95). Perfectly toasted fresh bread and juicy Sicilian Pachino tomatoes, with fragrant bursts of basil and garlic running through, it was superb. At the same time, we devoured a generous portion of fresh tuna tartare (£13.35), amplified with french mustard, lemon juice and a bed of wild rocket, the bitterness of which complemented the fish to a tee. Phwoar, what a couple of beauts - these really set the bar high.
Next up? We shared a plate of the lobster ravioli (£10.20). Not only did the pasta have a delicious bite to it, but it came in a bath of lobster bisque, sprinkled with juicy prawns and fresh tomatoes. Quickly after, our carbonara (£9.50) arrived. A simple choice, perhaps, but I’d been craving it for days (I’d usually go for something truffled, but I’d just come back from Perugia – the land of the truffle). This did not disappoint; a thick, creamy, golden coating, topped with salty bites of pancetta, it was totally unctuous.
You may think we’d be full by now, but we’ve both got black holes for stomachs. So onto the next couple of courses we went (ignoring our waiters suggestion, oops). The fillet of sea bass (£13.50) came in an olive oil, garlic and lemon zest dressing. It also sat on a bed of broccoli de rapa, which I wasn’t really a fan of, although my partner gobbled it up. We also chomped on the grilled ribeye (£21). Though ordered medium-rare, this was a little on the tough side, but the classic flavours of the parsley and chilli complemented it nicely. To go with? We sipped a couple glasses of the Remigio Rosso (£7.40 each), which was a lovely, light red that matched both these dishes.
Now, time for the dolci. We shared the affogato (£5.70), a lovely dollop of vanilla ice cream swimming in espresso, as well as the bomboloni (£7.30). This was a platter of mini doughnuts filled with Nutella. Though I had to keep my eyes away from the calorie count, boy were these some seriously indulgent delights.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Authentic, Italian fare in stunning surrounds - what's not to like? From the decor and service through to the food and drinks, I enjoyed every ounce of my visit. And as there's so much on the menu I've yet to try, if I'm in the opulent area again (who knows, maybe I'll win the lottery?), I'll definitely drop by for another round.
💰 The damage: £129.35 (note that there were two greedy pigs present).
📍 The location: 215 Piccadilly, St. Jame's, London, W1J 9HL.
👌 Perfect for: Relaxed dinners, cute date nights - pretty much anything, I reckon.
⭐ Need to know: All I have to say is, make sure to get the bruschetta.