Tailoring and food don’t always mix, as most of my suit trousers will tell you. (I also have a blazer that will never forgive me after a late-night panna cotta party gone tantrum-y). But in one small corner of Savile Row, at least, they’re easy enough pals. Sartoria is a grand, twinkling dining room sat on that bit of the Row opposite the police station and away from all those hungry eyes on the cutting floor. Restaurants don’t come here often — but then there aren’t many restaurants as finely appointed as this.
The carpets are cut thick like brioche bread and there’s an acre or so of white tablecloth draped between the plump banquettes and enveloping arm chairs. It is a particularly clever place to be on a drizzly December evening.
But a man can’t live off upholstery alone. And isn’t Savile Row as much about substance as style? Happily, it’s clear the food at Sartoria is acquainted with both, right from the first slick of olive oil. Really good olive oil isn’t oil at all, really. This stuff, mopped up with pillowy bread, has that unique peppery bite followed by a sweet unctuousness which makes you wonder just how extra and virgin your common-or-garden bottle really is.
Then come the starters — a fresh and playful white and brown crab salad given zip and vigour by some slithers of apple, and a beef carpaccio which flirts and melts on the tongue. Carpaccio di manzo is a stalwart of high-end italian joints in London (and particularly Mayfair), because it can service both the red-blooded hedgy and the lithe yoga grandmother with its steaky/ sushi confusion. But this one doesn’t care who you are or what you think about it — it’s genuinely the best I’ve had in the city.
The cacio e pepe: “Lovely and sultry”
The taglioni, swirled with cacio e pepe, adds to London’s latest wave of truffle-mania with a monstrous grating of fresh black tartufo on its upper slopes. It is a lovely, sultry addition to my gathering gout. I cut into it almost like a pie, taking thick wedges of sticky, rich pasta out and refusing really to share. My friend had a fettucine with a bold, achingly slow cooked wild boar ragu. This was hearty stuff, fairly matched by a lovely little Barbera d’Alba.
The Libare bar
We also ordered some neatly cooked, crunchy broccoli, and a trough of double baked potatoes with mozzarella and truffle — a kind of peat bog of decadence that threatens, at any minute, to drag you under. (Though £12 for mashed potato, no matter how lovely, will surely snap you out of it.) There is a brief dalliance near the end with a kind of giant, hazelnut-flecked Ferrero Rocher — a diabetic diplomat’s fever dream, and who can blame him. Dangerously moreish stuff. Which is all decent Italian food needs to be, no matter what you’re wearing — inviting, indulgent, cheek-kissing and hair stroking, with a sprezzatura execution and no thought for the trouser seams.
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