I’m not sure what I was expecting from the new Cicchetti (part of the San Carlo group) when I looked at the website, perhaps a middle of the road Italian in Covent Garden, there wasn’t even a menu. Yes it has good reviews, and yes they must have been doing something right as they’ve had huge success in Manchester and Piccadilly, but if you were going on the website it wasn’t much. Anyway I got to Wellington Street and found the restaurant, their extravagant window display of smoked and cured meats, which were lit up suggested that perhaps this was going to be more than your average Italian.
It wasn’t until I opened the door did I realise that we were onto something special, immediately you were hit with the smell of truffle and it was glorious. The restaurant itself was rather like the child of a grand European café and a gold bauble, if you can imagine that. A long marble bar gave way to a wider dining area, mirrors adorned the walls which basked in golden light and the place was filled with chatter as every table was full.
Cicchetti, for those who don’t know means Italian tapas and perhaps the reason the menu is not on the website is because it is vast, if you can’t make decisions then don’t, do as we did and ask the waiters to choose for you, that way you won’t spend hours agonizing over what to choose and you know you’ll be given the best.
Stand out dishes included salted cod with red onion and simple burrata and Parma ham and crispy golden arancini balls stuffed with beef were delicious. The lamb cutlets were a little disappointing and lacked flavour but then it was up against the most incredible tagliatelle cooked with a little cream and served with shavings of white truffle. And it was divine.
Our waiter was charming and attentive and he embellished every dish with a story; telling us the reason behind a dish’s name or a citing little anecdote from Italy. We finished with our waiter setting light to Sambuca and pouring it over a chocolate-covered, vanilla ice cream, the perfect end.
They say not to judge a book by its cover and that’s the last time I judge a restaurant by its website.