Robin Gill is a chef taking London by storm. Since 2013 he’s built something of a culinary empire across the capital; from early success at The Dairy in Clapham, to steak and oyster haunt Darby’s, to the effortlessly cool Bloodshot Supper Club.
In his latest venture, Robin pays homage to his early career years training on the Amalfi Coast. Maria G’s offers an oasis of Italian culinary delights in West Kensington.
The Handbook’s Food & Drink Contributor Katie Renouf gives it a try.
Tonight’s experience starts with my Uber driver depositing me in a quiet street. “Are you sure this is right?” I enquire, peering out the window. He glares at me in the rear-view mirror and jabs his finger at his phone – apparently indicating that I have, indeed, arrived at my destination.
It turns out that the destination in question is so new, it’s not really on the map yet. Quite cool, really.
A short walk later I find myself in the heart of the new Riverstone Living development. The entire area has the feel of a sprawling five star hotel, from the luxurious residences to the stunning library that forms the entrance to Maria G’s.
As for the restaurant interior… she sure is pretty. Green, tan and rose in colour, with beautiful Art Deco-esque lighting and a separate bar area. There are opulent emerald banquettes or stools at the chef’s counter, where diners can witness Robin and executive chef Aaron Potter at work.
The restaurant opens out to one of the best outdoor spaces I’ve come across. A perfectly manicured garden, with plenty of seating and shade options. Given the warm weather, we decide to sit out here, a gentle breeze wafting delicious smells from the kitchen.
Caesar is our charming and knowledgeable host for this evening. He explains the ethos of the restaurant; using the best of seasonal local and Italian produce, ensuring a green and sustainable focus without compromising on quality.
Cocktails are swiftly ordered. I opt for the Amalfi spritz which is an invigorating blend of Cocchi Americano, lemon sherbet, Fino sherry, orange bitters and prosecco. The perfect aperitif.
When it comes to design… she sure is pretty. Green, tan and rose in colour, with beautiful Art Deco-esque lighting and even a secret garden out back.
We begin with a perfect selection of their cicchetti; crunchy radishes with punchy “bagna cauda” (garlic and anchovy sauce), salty anchovies wrapped in sage leaves then fried in tempura and the most incredible aged parmesan fries with a churro-like texture. And let’s not forget their majestic focaccia, light and pillowy in the middle with a perfectly crisp exterior, oozing olive oil. Quite possibly the best bread I have ever eaten.
Next, we are treated to creamy Stracciatella; the creamy cheese beautifully dotted with seasonal stone fruit and herbs. This is paired with a plate of salty Coppa (ham from the pork shoulder) and melon ribbons. The two plates work wonderfully well together, with the melon cutting through the richness of the meat and cheese.
We sample two of the three pasta dishes – the hand-rolled spaghetti with mussels, lemon, chilli and lovage, and the ricotta angolotti with purple artichoke, Datterini tomatoes and basil. Both are incredibly well-made, the perfect texture with the flavour of each ingredient vividly bursting through. I’ve also heard wonderful things about the mackerel Bolognese, but that just gives me another excuse to come back.
Next, we taste the monkfish in puttanesca butter – the anchovy and tomato notes shining through in the glossy sauce. And my dish of the night? A tough choice, but the perfectly pink lamb served with goats curd, broad beans chilli and mint is quite honestly a sensation. You can get a bit lamb-weary towards the end of the season, but the mint and chilli punch freshness into the butter-soft meat and goats curd. Heavenly.
We finish our meal with perfectly creamy and nutty hazelnut cannoli, the juiciest watermelon sorbet laced with vodka, and yet another standout dish – the fior di latte (buffalo milk) gelato with olive oil and salt. I ask what syrup has been added to the dish and discover the flavour comes from the natural sugars in the milk caramelising. Simply incredible and such a clever dish concept.
The night is rounded off with a shot of their homemade Limoncello; a far cry from the lurid substance I experienced in my younger years. This has a delightful sherbet lemon zing. The perfect elixir for a warm summer’s night.
With that… it’s time to bid goodnight to the team and find my way back to the main road.
Given its tranquil location, the restaurant doesn’t have much in the way of passing footfall, so if you love it too – and you will – pay it forward and tell your friends. They’ll thank you.