In the perfect balance between style and substance, Sartoria redefines the idea of comfort food with it’s old-world style and fantastic food
Words Amanda Constance
Sometimes it’s really good to go up west for some posh nosh and Sartoria delivers a W1 dining experience in spades. This is no perch-on-a-stool, authentic Italian dining experience. Francesco Mazzei’s W1 outpost has all the plush and pile one would expect from a restaurant on Savile Row, where the rich go to get measured for comfort. This is a restaurant of mirrors, glass and brass and old world elegance. A very proper maître d’, Enrico, showed us to our table with the requisite flourish; waiters in penguin uniform billowed table napkins the size of sails across our laps as we were enveloped in deeply comforting wing-backed chairs with seats as soft as baby bottoms.
From the list of antipasti we choose the beef Battuta with anchovies and straciatella – a meaty mound of beef tartare laced with punch anchovy and chewy cheese. Vitello tonnato was disappointing, looking processed and tasting like luncheon meat with fish paste, while seafood fregola didn’t live up to the hype. Mazzei’s signature dish has been much lauded but mine came rather short of scallops or prawns, a thin affair. Fettucine with sausage ragu and asapargus was good but less than the sum of its parts.
We were beginning to think Sartoria might be style over substance. But then the mains came. My roasted turbot with peppers caponata was bouncy and divine but the night’s winner was Mazzei’s signature dish of home-cured black cod with liquorice. It was sensational. The softest of fish sealed in a smoky-sour liquorice coating. And of course, zucchine fritte – a miraculous overflowing pot of the best courgette chips ever. Best eaten in great fistfuls; hot, salty and delicious.
We finished with a zabaglione, a boozy, duvet of a pudding, which was roundly upstaged by Tartufo di pizzo – an iced pistachio and hazelnut Calabrian Truffle. This arrived as a brown paper package tied up with string, unfurled by Enrico with as much theatre as only a true Italian can bring to a plate of ice cream, who sprinkled it with cocoa in great operatic waves. It was a confection of cold, sweet, nutty heaven. Just the thing to end a very plush meal.