Restaurant Review: Il Gattopardo, Mayfair
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Restaurant Review: Il Gattopardo, Mayfair

Is this buzzy Italian style over substance?

Flashy restaurant interiors are not hard to come by in London. But an indulgent meal in a jazzy setting is an undeniable luxury. So how does newcomer Il Gattopardo in Mayfair measure up? Rebecca Cox reviews the Italian restaurant from the owners of Amazónico and COYA. 

Il Gattopardo: Design & Location

With so many glitzy neighbours to compete with, Il Gattopardo’s Albemarle Street address could be a hindrance. But the Mayfair restaurant is packed and buzzing on our visit, a drizzly Tuesday night in March. Coats deposited in the cloakroom, however, we are instantly transported from grey London to 1960s Italy, chic interiors by Dion & Arles rich in dark wood and plush navy velvet, warm mood lighting, paying homage to Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti. Il Gattopardo, translation, the leopard, is present, but in a tasteful ceramic statue here, a subtle fabric trim there; it’s more Sicilian summer than all-out mob wife aesthetic. There’s also a garden room with a retractable roof that will be glorious come summer (if summer does actually decide to come to London). 

DRINKS

No trip to Southern Italy is complete without the perfect Aperitivo or a sterling Negroni, both of which you’ll find here. In fact, if you aren’t in the market for dinner, it’s worth taking a seat at the bar and enjoying the atmosphere and interiors for a drink or two. The ‘Red Desert’ is a sweet tangerine treat to whet your appetite for the night ahead, while La Dolce Vita is an orange twist on an espresso martini, Cîroc Vodka, Mandarin Liqueur, Cold Brew Espresso and Zabaione Foam. This snazzy mix summarises Il Gattopardo perfectly: sweet but not too sickly. 

paste at Il Gattopardo restaurant

FOOD

The Il Gattopardo menu, curated by Executive Chef and native of the Abruzzo region Massimo Pasquarelli, offers a mix of Italian classics from various regions of Italy, focusing on Sicily, Amalfi, and the Southern Isles. The focus is on sharing, which is lucky because there are more than a handful of must-tries on the menu. The fish starter and main options are good enough that one could be tempted to skip the pasta/pizzette portion of the feast, but to do so would be an error. 

Before we go into any of these though, we must start at the end and work our way back. Any Italian (or friend of) knows that a proper meal has loose rules on the number of courses, with a constant stream of plates culminating with a sweet bite or two meaning that one can, on occasion, be too full for pudding. You cannot allow this to happen at Il Gattopardo. The Bonet Caldo is a warm chocolate cake with Amaretto di Saronno and a creamy custard sauce. It is a cauldron of molten chocolate goo, a rich and indulgent, bitter-sweet, soft and chewy heaven. I can take or leave most desserts, but this one, I would part with 14 hard-earned English pounds for (which is the only way to get your hands on it, incidentally). 

pizette at Il Gattopardo

The prices of all the dishes are similarly high, unsurprising for the area and owners, with most starters from around £20-£30, mini pizettes from £12 and mains around £30-£60. The Gamberi (Sicilian Mazara prawns) is a gorgeous start to the meal, as is the smoked burrata paired with grilled courgettes and pistachios (a bargain at £18!). A petit Margarita pizette is gone in seconds, soft and crispy dough topped with rich tomato sauce and slimy mozzarella, the welcome comfort food between fine dining dishes, a chip-butty on-route to the wedding. 

The ‘wedding’ course, then, should be the grilled dover sole, cooked to perfection and served with lime chilli and paprika butter and seasonal wild mushrooms. More than large enough to satisfy two with a couple of sides, though since you’re here and settled into a squishy velvet sofa prepared to shell out some serious cash, you’re probably three-courses deep by now. And all the happier for it.  

THE FINAL WORD

Word has it that Il Gattopardo’s menu has had a tweak or two since its opening late last year and is all the better for it. Delicious comfort food in a chic and sleek setting: if you’re willing to splash out on the eye-watering prices you’ll be rewarded with mouth-wateringly good food and drinks. (And if not, just pop in for a cocktail and a Bonet Caldo for the ultimate Mayfair sugar rush.)

BOOK

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