Rosie Paterson tries out a new Mayfair restaurant with an extraordinary back story.
The old adage that (fine) wine only gets better with age was surely inspired by Marchesi de’Frescobaldi, the celebrated Italian wine dynasty. Rising to prominence in 14th-century Florence, the family played a pivotal role in the city’s political scene and economic success and patronised many of the great artists and architects.
In fact, the Frescobaldi circle of influence was so large that during the reigns of English Kings Edward I and Edward II, they were given the title ‘Treasurers to the English Crown.’
It is fitting then that their first UK restaurant-serving up a slice of Italian tradition-opened just off of one of England’s own enduring landmarks: Savile Row.
In partnership with The Good Food Society, Ristorante Frescobaldi occupies a large, oak-panelled dining room, glorious double height ceilings and a cocktail bar one floor below. Charming touches – including the names of Frescobaldi estates and wines carved into the walls, and artfully mismatched mid-century modern chairs – ensure that the space, though undoubtedly contemporary, never veers into corporate territory.
The wine list, as one might expect, is extensive from a company whose vineyards – today numbering 11 – once supplied Henry VIII and his Tudor court. Thankfully, personable staff are on hand to help you reach a decision – or, in our case, choose for us. Start with an aperitif and hunks of handmade bread whilst you make up your mind. Prosecco flows like water here, not that we noticed many complaints.
Overseen by head chef, Roberti Reatini, the kitchen excels in refined updates on comforting classics. Seafood features heavily on the menu and we couldn’t resist a bowl of rich lobster linguine. Other favourites included melt-in-the-mouth beef fillet carpaccio and perfectly al-dente pumpkin tortello.
In a city that has seen more than 250 new restaurants open this year alone, it can be hard to entice diners through the door. Near to full capacity on the Tuesday that we visited, however, the Frescobaldi team need not resort to celebrity endorsement and ever-changing menus. All you really need is a mere 700-years experience.
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Ristorante Frescobaldi, 15 New Burlington Place, London W1S 2HX (020-3693 3435; frescobaldi.london)