Tucked behind the frenetic heaving streets of Mayfair, a stone’s throw away from Primark pandemonium and blindly buying basics, is an oasis of calm class.
Ristorante Frescobaldi is the latest addition to London’s burgeoning Italian cuisine scene. Now, of course London, along with every other major city, has ALWAYS had its fair share of cosy little Italian restaurants. But Italian cuisine has undergone a trendy genesis over the last few years, shrugging off its clichés of no-frills, carb-laden family cooking in favour of more adventurous fare, from chic charcuterie to cutting-edge caponata.
Frescobaldi fits this bill of nuovo-italiano perfectly. The décor alone gives you an idea of what to expect. Glimmering behind a striking wall of glass, hostesses resembling off-duty Victoria’s Secret models glide between tables with steaming plates of meat, while vines cascade from cornices, illuminated by state-of-the-art halogen lighting. A far cry from Mrs Dolmio’s kitchen. There’s not a chequered tablecloth in sight, and the only terracotta here has probably been crushed up and used as an exfoliator by one of the hostesses.
Seated on almost unnecessarily comfortable chairs, we chose from the Evening A La Carte menu. The first thing that struck me was the sheer amount of choice on offer. Antipasti, Carpacci, Primi Piatti, Secondi Di Pesce and Secondi Di Carne – five comprehensive menu segments, all stuffed with saliva-inducing choices. Us Brits aren’t to used to so many nice things. We usually just order the magherita with some dough balls and be done with it.
But in the end I managed it, going for the Bruschetta di grancho con broccoli e zenzero (crab bruschetta with brocolli and ginger) for primi, and Ossobuco for secondi.
The crab bruschetta was possibly the most delicious thing I’ve tasted since 2014. Flawlessly light, with the crunchiness of the bruschetta perfectly complimenting the shredded, grassy texture of the crab. The brocolli was gorgeous too, tender, yet crunchy!
Then it was on the ossobuco. Unfortunately, it was the wrong choice for me. And I’ve phrased it that way because I could tell it was flawlessly cooked and flawlessly presented. The reason I chose it was because – as a recently lapsed vegetarian – I’d never tried it before, and thought I might as well go the whole hog, so to speak (ossobuco is veal, so once you’ve had that, as a political vegetarian there’s no going back). I think it was the texture I couldn’t handle, but that’s probably exactly what others love about it – slides off the bone and cuts like butter. Tenderness unparalleled!
I was so full by the time we came to dessert (#FirstWorldProblems) that I just went for the pistachio ice cream, which was fresh and wonderful. And they served it with Haribo Star Mix, which was a slightly jarring but entirely welcome surprise!
Nobody’s sure who’s responsible for this sudden modern shift in Italian food. It could be the increasing numbers of Michelin-starred Italian chefs who have been making waves around the world. Or it could be Donatella Versace, plotting in her mansion. Either way, it’s wonderful, unique and most importantly…delicious!
Ristorante Frescobaldi is at 15 New Burlington Pl, Mayfair, London W1S 2HX.
Words by Dylan Jones