“ 52 Wilton Road / Victoria / London / SW1V 1DE. „
we only visit London once in a while but this restaurant is definitely on our list for a return visit after a delicious meal there last year.
We enjoyed the Italian lesson whilst ordering our food and found the service great. It didn't bother us that he didn't speak any English to us, we could understand bella, bella which was sufficient and we could read the menu which was in English. A five minute call on a Lloyds TSB help line is far more annoying!The wine waiter speaks perfect English and the owner's wife too so no problem if you have a question. We both had three courses, bottle of wine, coffee and think the bill was around 60 pounds, about 70 with a tip which we thought was very reasonable for the standard of restaurant.
We were staying at the Hesperia Hotel adjacent to Victoria Station so this was very close by but we would travel further to enjoy an evening at this excellent restaurant.
Living in London with the choice of just about any type of cuisine to choose from, I dont usually think of Italian. Recently though, I had the urge for some pasta and my boyfriend suggested we tried this one, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from where he lives.
The restaurant is conveniently very close to Victoria Station, about a two minute walk along Wilton Road when turning right out the front entrance of the station. This is particularly convenient if you are going to see either Wicked or Billy Elliot.
52 Wilton Road
London SW1V 1DE
Telephone: 020 7828 5818
To be honest, there is nothing particularly eye-catching about this restaurant from the outside. I walk past it at least twice a week and yet I had never really noticed it and had no idea what sort of restaurant it was. It does have a posh air about it though and looks immaculately clean.
There are two parts to the restaurant; the smoking part is immediately in front of you as you walk in through the door, the non-smoking part is almost a separate room off to the left. The tables are covered in white table cloths and look immaculate. I wasnt particularly struck by the cosiness of the restaurant, although it wasnt quite as clinical as it could have been with all the pristine white around.
As we walked in, we were immediately greeted by a waiter, who asked if we wanted to sit in the non-smoking or smoking section we asked for the non-smoking. The Maitre d then took us through to our table. He was very polite (at least I think he was), but insisted on speaking Italian to us, which I thought was a bit odd. We both speak French, so I knew more or less what he was saying, but not everyone does and it struck me as being a little rude.
When we were ready to order, I attracted the attention of a waiter, who immediately came over, but only took our wine order, saying that someone would be along shortly to take our food order. This turned out to be the Maitre d again. I didnt really mind, but I couldnt quite understand why we couldnt order everything from one person. We ordered our food in bad Italian (the names of the dishes were all in Italian) and the Maitre d repeated it the correct way, which again, was slightly annoying. However, everything was done very quickly and we didnt have to wait too long for our food.
Opera music was playing in the background, which I quite enjoyed. It wasnt too loud either, so if you dont like opera music, it shouldnt be too annoying.
Food and drink
I ordered the mozzarella tricolore, which is simply slices of mozzarella, aubergine and tomato. This was drizzled with dressing and decorated with different coloured lettuce, all of which looked really attractive. I think it is pretty difficult to get this dish wrong, but anyway, it was delicious, with just the right amount of piquancy in the dressing. My partner had duck liver pate, which he thought was delicious I dont like pate, so didnt try any. The bread to accompany our starters was beautifully fresh and there was a good selection of different types. My only gripe was the butter, which had clearly just come out of the freezer, and was very difficult to spread. If it isnt spreadable, why bother?
For the main course, I had Tortelloni di Magro (home-made ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach to us ordinary mortals), covered in a delicious tomato and basil sauce. When served, it turned out to be four very generously stuffed pieces of ravioli, which were by far large enough to suit my appetite. The tomato sauce was deliciously fresh. My partner had penne pasta with a light sauce and pieces of steak. It didnt look all that impressive, but it was mouthwatering, and the pieces of steak were so tender that they melted in the mouth.
There were a number of other main courses, including other pasta dishes, sliced veal, steak, stuffed chicken and fish, but not a pizza in sight! Someone at a neighbouring table was vegetarian and didnt have too many options, but the Maitre d was happy to have something cooked specially for her, which was a nice touch. Apparently, the food varies from day to day, depending on the season and what is freshly available.
I finished off with a delicious panna cotta with fresh strawberries and raspberries and a coffee. The panna cotta, apparently made that morning, was beautifully creamy, but light enough that I could kid myself it didnt have TOO many calories in it. The coffee came with free biscotti and chocolates, which I kindly shared with boyfriend even though he didnt deserve them (this meal was a treat for something hed done wrong!). The tiramisu also looked delicious.
We had a lovely bottle of white wine with the meal Im not fussy about my wine, so we just had the house one, but even my partner, who is seriously anal about wine, enjoyed it.
I had no problems with the toilets they were very clean and fresh.
The final price came to about £60. I didnt think this was too bad for London, especially considering the fact that I had had three courses and wine. However, none of the courses were particularly big and for a man, I can imagine three courses wouldnt be enough. Also, there are cheaper Italian restaurants in the vicinity; for example, Sole Mio, which is just down the road and I would only choose Gran Paradiso as an occasional treat.
I did really enjoy my meal and so did my partner and Im sure that I will go back at some point. However, it is a restaurant for a special treat rather than a casual meal out. I felt under-dressed in jeans and I would have preferred it if the Maitre d hadnt made me feel stupid for not pronouncing Italian properly. Apart from the size of the portions though, I cannot fault the food, which was delicious. Recommended, especially if youre visiting the theatre and are prepared to pay a bit more for the accompanying meal.