Sartoria: a smart West End Italian
I’ve always been a fan of Francesco Mazzei’s cooking so when he suddenly left his previous restaurant L’Anima I couldn’t wait for him to pop up somewhere else.
It’s taken a while but now he seems to have found his natural home in the revamped Sartoria in Savile Row.
Like L’Anima it’s a posh sort of place designed to appeal to city boys on expense accounts (this part of Mayfair hosts a number of hedge funds) though I noticed there were a fair amount of what looked like well-heeled Italian businessmen there too. It’s warmer and more convivial than L’Anima with plenty of potential for people watching so you want to make sure you get a corner table rather than one that leaves one of you with their back to the room. (We managed to get ours changed. I can recommend table 6.)
Seduced by the idea of lobster tagliolini my friend Thane and I rapidly dismissed the affordable option of the set lunch menu in favour of exploring the à la carte. We were going to have a starter and a primo then felt we ‘should’ have a main and at least a couple of the sides should be explored. All in the interests of doing the menu justice, you understand, not because we’re pigs.
The lobster was just fantastic with fat chunks of sweet meat, silky pasta and a really intense shellfish sauce. We also loved the burrata with ‘torpendino’ tomatoes and smoked aubergine with an amazing hit of fragrant basil leaves and a chunkily cut beef tartare with anchovies and truffle. The fritto misto we ordered was slightly less impressive with as much courgette as fish though there were some delicious little monkfish tails lurking in it. And someone had been a bit too heavy handed with the nutmeg on the double baked potatoes with mozzarella, a dish that sounded more seductive than it tasted, even for this potato lover. Nice fresh rocket salad on the side though.
On the next door table a couple were tucking into a vast veal milanese that would comfortably have served three, served with an overflowing bowl of courgette fries. Seeing us eyeing it up they generously offered us a taste - and that was tops too - cut more thickly than the usual escalope from good veal with plenty of flavour.
After this we resolved to resist the zabaglione we’d had our eye on but hadn’t reckoned with Francesco sending out a couple of desserts - a really faultless tiramisu - not too creamy, not too sweet, and a clever, ravishingly pretty plate of lemon-curd stuffed meringues with crisp shards of rhubarb. It would have been rude not to really ...
We kept our bill under reasonable control by sticking to wine by the glass, a Verdicchio and a Pieropan Soave to start with, and a gorgeous Fiano di Avellino from Guido Marsella which was perfect with the lobster. It would be easy to be led into spending a good deal more by the persuasive waiters - although there are bottles for as little as £25 on the wide-ranging Italian wine list.
One of the big attractions of Sartoria is that it’s open all day so should you suddenly crave a tiramisu after a particularly fraught shopping session in Regent Street you could indulge the whim. Or, even better, plan a power breakfast. I particularly like the sound of the eggs purgatorio with spicy tomato and ‘nduja sauce (Francesco, coming from Calabria, is the man who started the whole nduja craze).
Sartoria is pricey but if you go with the idea of dropping in for a dish it’s affordable. And very cossetting, I must say.
Sartoria is at 20 Savile Row, London W1S 3PR. Tel: 020 7534 7000
Disclosure: we were given complimentary desserts and aperitifs
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