Having recently opened Venosi, a new Italian eatery in Chelsea, Luigi Venosi (formerly of Don Luigi’s in Soho) and his head chef son Gino (with experience working at his dad's as well as at restaurants in Florence and Naples) invited Londonist over to see what we thought of their seasonal menu with a “contemporary approach to traditional Italian flavours and combinations”. Here's our take on the menu and our overall dining experience:
Clean lines in a comfortable and modern setting deny any rustico leanings you might have come to expect from so many southern Italian restaurants in London, but the stuff on the plate and the aromas wafting up to your nose confirmed the Amalfi Coast roots of its owners. Keeping things elegant, simple and romantic, the place could easily have been a newbie eatery along said coast. Still, something about the ambience during our dine left us wondering.
There on a Friday night from roughly 8.15 to 10.45, Londonist and our guest were one of only three seatings. An observation we found strange given the quality of food and prompt friendly service. While the Gaucho next door and other nearby restos and bars teemed, we virtually had Venosi to ourselves. We supposed the word just hadn't gotten out yet about Venosi's spot on menu.
Calami fritti (£8.95) with a fabulous and home made tartar sauce were lightly breaded, had a nice texture and satisfied the craving that hit as soon as we saw them listed as a starter option. Insalata di arancia e capesante (seared scallops, fennel and Sicilian blood orange salad with Sicilian blood orange vinaigrette, £11.50) was equally agreeable, but we wouldn't have complained if more fennel had been added. A main course of pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale (home made pasta ribbons with wild boar ragu and black truffle shavings, £18.50) didn't necessarily beat us over the head with any sense of wow but made us feel quite chuffed to start the first night of the weekend eating such a delicious dish. Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with fresh clams, white wine, garlic, chopped fresh tomato and parsley, £15.50) pleased as well while a bottle of light bodied La Versa, Pinot Noir White 2008 (Lombardia, £18.95) held its delicate ground with a peppery aftertaste throughout our meal.
Gelato di parmigiano and panna cotta allo cioccolato bianco e rosemarino (panna cotta with white chocolate and rosemary, £5.50 each) both intrigued and were well worth saving a bit of room for. And the “every lady will receive a free rose from Luigi” policy charmed our socks off with a bit of old school front-of-house-ery as we were graciously ciao-ed to the door.
Not really sure we'd make a special trip for a repeat, we're confident in recommending Venosi to locals as one to regularly visit (or at least keep in mind as a solid standby) and will add it our list of top contenders for when back in the area.
Venosi is located at 87 Sloane Avenue, SW3 3DX. Visit the restaurant online at www.venosi.co.uk.