Review: Veronica Blake
ITALY has always been a world trendsetter in terms of food, fashion
London seems to be experiencing an Italian Renaissance at the
moment with the opening last year of the super stylish Cipriani
in Davies Street.
Just as in fashion, the Italian have always had a way with food.
I've yet to experience a tasteless Italian meal. Though I can
recall many a bland meal where a chef has managed to make perfectly
good ingredients tasteless.
A young Australian chef at a top Kensington hotel told me of
his horror on his first week, at discovering the vast amounts
of cream and butter which are used daily, literally gallons of
The Italians, in contrast, can make the simplest ingredients
taste delicious, a case of less being more.
Our simple pasta starter was sublimely scrumptious. As recommended
by the charming maitre 'd, Marco, the Bresaola with Rucola was
Dining at Cipriani is so much more than a meal out, it is an
You are swept away to another world for an evening. A world
of a bygone era, of romance and chandeliers and stylish paintings,
and flowers, and stunningly handsome waiters, like they had stepped
out of Vogue Italia.
Cipriani proves that style does not have to be synonymous with
sourness, snootiness or bad manners.
Customers are treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. Welcomed
like an old friend.
Little wonder then that Cipriani has taken over from San Lorenzo
as the place to be. Even the style setters no longer want to be
treated with anything less than respect and courtesy.
You are greeted with a glass of the legendary Bellini. Johnny
Depp is a fan, and dined here last week when in town to promote
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
His entrance caused a flurry with Posh Spice who was dining with
Roberto Cavalli, but Depp sensibly ignored her. Telling his PR
he'd never heard of her.
Tom Arnold was making his presence felt on our visit, larger
than life, laughing and smoking throughout the meal. Sadly, we
were in the line of fire of his table of smokers.
As if he could read our minds, the Maitr'd whisked us off to
a table in the corner, smoke free and with a
fantastic view of the restaurant.
That is the secret of Cipriani's magic, they not only serve you
the most delicious Italian food, they can also read your mind.
One of the nicer aspects of Cipriani is that it is not jumping
on any bandwagon or making a fashion statement. Like the best
style icons, it is timeless.
The dishes are classic. There's steak
tartare, Scampi al Thermidore, Club Sandwich, Croque Monsieur,
timeless classics harking back to an era when the world was a
nicer kinder place, days of glamour, the Orient Express and Hollywood
Speaking of glamour, there was a trail of stunningly clad ladies
who emerged from the cloakroom, I've never seen such beautifully
Cipriani must be one of the few restaurants where women really
glam up to dine out.
A bric red silk fish tail number swept past in a waft of Chanel
This was more catwalk than restaurant, I thought.
The wine list is eclectic, at our waiter's recommendation we
opted for the Sicilian Syrah, which was perfect, and actually
one of the cheapest on the menu.
My Chicken Spezzatino with Verz cabbage was tender and as tasty
as one of those dishes your mother prepared on cold winter nights.
Real love and care has gone into the preparation of the dishes
here, sadly all too lacking in restaurants today, where cost is
put above quality and they prefer to pay a Kossovan a below minimum
wage and it shows in the cooking.
At Cipriani, the food is lovingly prepared by a native of Italy
who was raised on good food and probably helped out in the kitchen
as soon as he was old enough to reach the kitchen table.
I definitely want to return to Cipriani on a cold November night,
not just to have the excuse to dress up and enjoy the glamour
which we could do with during our gloomy winter, but also to sample
the warming bean and minestrone soups and the comforting Tagliolini
or Risotto with Asparagus.
We shared a mouthwatering Tiramisu and a stunningly beautiful
plate of mixed berries with raspberry sorbet.
I couldn't decide which was more stunning, the plate of berries
or our beautiful Neapolitan waiter.
I can highly recommend a visit to Cipriani as one of the ten
things to do before you die.
When you think of what you pay today for bland, indifferent
food, Cipriani is worth every penny.
It is not just for the food, it is the whole Cipriani magic
as captured by Mr Cipriani many years ago in Venice.
London is all the luckier now that he has imported some of the
magic at a time when we need it.
Call up the wonderful Antonio Boccia on 020 7399 0500 and experience
some Cipriani magic for yourself.
The Cipriani experience is one of life's magical memories you
25 Davies St,
Tel. 0207 399 0500
Dinner from £35 for 3 courses