A dazzling star in the party capital of Ibiza and couture doors of Milan, IT opened doors in November 19 to conquer the luxe streets of Mayfair. Roping in their native two-starred Michelin chef of La Torre del Saracino fame, IT brings unique flavours a world away from deep crust pizza and four cheese lasagne.
Based in a former art gallery space just arm’s length from celebrity favourite Mahiki, I soaked up the understated yet glamorously elegant interiors of this multi-faceted, two floor venue. Its rich, statement colour palette shows off antique gold, cream and mint green, consisting of fabric lights, backlit walls and scalloped velvet chairs finished with individual brass lights, gold charger plates and intricate cutlery on marble tables.
Beautiful green curtains revealed a private dining room with a dramatic glass ceiling, whilst a sliding door upstairs opened to an invitation only VIP area promising maximum discretion with its strict photography ban, perks of a members’ club without the annual fee! The showstopper was the cocktail bar in a futuristic pod design, finished with neon blue stripes and a backlit bar display of exclusive spirits, champagne and whiskies, bringing that glitzy party island vibe to the venue complete with the DJ’s infectious beats.
Dinner started with gourmet pizzas of tomato, mozzarella and basil, followed by cheese with green and yellow peppers and chilli flakes. They brought visions of sitting in a remote Italian cafe by the shores, devouring a Nonna’s handmade pizza. The wafer thin base truly deserved a gold star. Next was the courgette tartare, a stunningly presented tasty work of art of diced courgette mixed with a silky herbed basil and almond sauce.
The gratinated anchovy was initially my biggest fear. However, I surprised myself by polishing off the lightly fried, soft fish, which worked in harmony with the zesty orange sauce that cut through the otherwise oily and salty richness; A beautifully poached king crab salad followed with swirls of avocado and artichoke cream.
The ricotta and tomato ravioli – though noted for its rustic flavours – left me a tad deflated with its slight stodgy, gnocchi-like texture and minimal filling. The main of charcoal lamb, whilst hearty, arrived minus cooking preference requests and ranged from medium to extra rare on my plate, causing a flow of bloody juices to seep into the turnip greens and garlic sauce.
The walnut biscotti dessert was controversial; whilst light with delicate aromas of walnuts, was most definitely not a biscotti, but ultimately a walnut cake, opening potential betrayal dangers from diners having done their Italian homework. The saving grace though was the accompanying homemade, rich olive oil gelato topped with lime.
After the initial red carpet welcome, the service left little to be desired post the lamb. Twenty minutes without a glass of wine or water and no acknowledgement led to several minutes of scoping the dining room and a volume restrained plea for a top-up as they hastily rushed past.
An unparalleled location, modelesque crowds and Michelin Star dining aside, IT has at times fallen under fire for lacklustre service standards; could this be teething problems as they find their groove following their recent birth? Or do the smart jeans and black top crowd fall foul with the restaurant favouring the bejewelled ball gown guest list?
The future arrival of Italian rival Il Borro could prove detriment to IT’s success, having created waves securing Nobu’s Berkeley Square flagship for a seven figure annual rent; or maybe some healthy competition is just what IT needs to cement its mark as London’s hottest dining destination? Whatever the future holds, they have the tools not only to match their well-groomed Balearic and Italian sibling’s glittering reputation, but also to rival fellow Mayfair queen bees subject to non-rare meat (should we wish) and a strict service makeover, so all diners are made to feel like an A-lister.
Review by Anuja Gaur
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