London//eat: Cicchetti

215 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9HL and 30 Wellington St, London WC2E 7BD

Dining out in London doesn’t get much better than this: authentic Italian food served tapas-style!

With two locations in London, this upmarket restaurant is hotly in demand for both lunch and dinner, so make sure you book ahead!

But on to what makes Cicchetti so special… the food. And what food it is: beautiful Italian cuisine, served in bite-size portions, made with authentic ingredients, cooked by the chefs you can watch in the exposed kitchen, if you so desire. It’s just as well that the food is served as tapas, because every dish on the menu looks so appetizing that you’ll want to try a bit of everything! They recommend 4-5 dishes per pair, so you can have fun together choosing the dishes that you both fancy the most.

Dishes I’d particularly recommend would have to be the crab and avocado salad with Sardinian flat bread and the pizza pollo parmigiana, a white pizza (no tomato) with smoked chicken, mozzarella cheese, parmesan and fresh basil. We were also blown away by the tagliatelle bolognese, which had the tantalising description: ‘the oldest recipe of Nonna Maria from Bologna. Our sauce is slow cooked over 6 hours.’ The waiter approved of our choice, saying that it was his personal favourite on the menu. And the sauce was indeed divine.

The waiting staff are also a highlight of this restaurant. Like many Italian restaurants, the staff seemed to be made up of Italians, and there are plenty of waiters rushing here and there, calling and joking to each other, creating a busy and fun atmosphere. At the same time, the restaurant did not feel noisy or distracting.

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The waiters were extremely friendly, chatting away to us and making us laugh. My aunt had eaten previously at the Covent Garden branch and swore that it was unbeatable, so when we ate at the Piccadilly branch the waiter kept popping by our table as we ate, inquiring periodically which was the best branch of Cicchetti? It was only after our dessert that she conceded it had to be Piccadilly!

The waiter then knelt down and chatted to us as we ate our mini beef burgers, swearing to us that the Chianina cattle that the beef was made from were massaged personally by the farmer every day and had music played to relax them (though this was doubtful, the beef did taste delicious…) My aunt warned him that the manager was looking quizzically his way, but he only scoffed, “I am fire, you cannot control me.”

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The restaurant has a lovely atmosphere, decorated tastefully. It’s another great people-watching spot in London (or maybe I just like to people-watch everywhere!) It feels at once classy and welcoming.

The highlight of the whole meal was the dessert: a huge slice of tiramisu, served with a shot of Marsala – which the waiter jokingly told us was to be drunk, but we poured it over our desserts and let it soak into the sponge. Light sponge mixed with rich alcohol, the perfect amount of cream and coffee… not only did this tip the balance as to which was the best branch of Cicchetti, but my aunt swore it was the best tiramisu she had ever had!

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A meal for two will cost in the region of £40, with wines at around £5-6 a glass or £30 a bottle. There is also a branch in Manchester!

Find all the details, including menus and booking, here.

Visited 3rd July 2018.

 

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