Nestled in the heart of Belgravia, on the ground floor of The Hari Hotel, is the recently-opened Italian restaurant il Pampero. Rosie Paterson paid a visit.
A bread basket can speak volumes about the restaurant it is served in. Il Pampero’s was varied, challenging –think squid ink grissini and salty focaccia – and unmistakably fresh.
The bread is made fresh-in-house (as is all the food) and has a discernibly home-cooked feel – something that is always comforting, even more so when it’s Italian. It was good to see that il Pampero’s elegant location and polished interiors had not detracted from that feel.
White clothed tables and mid-century modern style leather chairs surround the focal point bar, all decked out in warming earthy tones and dark greens.
There’s also an Instagram-worthy black and white tiled floor and towering indoor plants in the floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s a welcome respite from the hotel’s innocuous exterior and clinical lobby, and one of il Pampero’s defining features.
We started off with a creamy burrata starter (surely a must-have at any Italian eatery?) and beef carpaccio, a personal favourite, served with customary truffle, grana cheese and rocket leaves.
The stand out dish, however, was undoubtedly the main course: a whole salt-baked cod, whose thick white exterior was expertly cracked open at the table, to reveal fresh, flaky fish beneath.
The puddings marked something of a departure from the menu which had been, up until that point, charmingly rustic and simply served. A vegan meringue concoction and panna cotta were exquisitely and cleanly presented, small in size but full of flavour.
Make sure you stay hydrated — the central bar serves a mean negroni, so much so that there’s a separate menu dedicated to the dangerously good tipple. If gin isn’t your thing ask the barman on duty to surprise you, using the spirit of your choice. Absorbed as we were in a nameless fresh fruit-flavoured vodka concoction, the wine list was overlooked but looked, at a glance, to be extensive, with a fair range of mid-priced bottles.
Il Pampero is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner costs from £70 for three courses, for two guests, excluding wine – see www.ilpampero.com or call 020-3189 4850.
A few more of Country Life’s favourite Italian restaurants in London:
La Famiglia, SW10 (020-7351 0761; www.lafamiglia.co.uk)
Osteria Basilico, W11 (020-7727 9956; www.osteriabasilico.co.uk)
Zia Lucia, N7 (020-7700 3708; www.zialucia.com)
Nuala, EC1Y (020-3904 0462; www.nualalondon.com)