When my friend and I wandered into Cicchetti one fine autumnal evening little did we know the gastronomic delight our evening would hold.
Cicchetti is part of the San Carlo Group, and their restaurant in Covent Garden is a new addition to the Italian family.
The Cicchetti mantra is simple; eat fresh and share. The word ‘cicchetti’ is used to describe small Venetian plates which complement larger ones, however the small plates at Cicchetti need no accompaniment as they shine alone.
As soon as you enter the bustling atmosphere warms your soul. We were removed from London by the authenticity of it all and shot into an Italian ristorante on a fine balmy summers eve.
The waiter bought over a menu like I had never seen before, it was immense! How ever were we to choose? Luckily this was complimented with a smaller seasonal menu and some knowledgeable waiting staff. The manager went round to each customer and explained the most recent member of Cicchetti Covent Garden, the ‘Alba’ white truffle. She came all the way from Italy to tantalize our tastebuds! It was really cool how he explained her history, and how they tailor their menu to showcase seasonal produce.
With this in mind, and after attempting to choose an eclectic mix we opted for: Lobster tails (grilled in garlic butter and chilli sauce), Pork belly (slow cooked with winter spices, balsamic sauce and roasted potatoes), Agnolotti Piemontesi (fresh filled meat Pasta with black truffles in veg consommé) and Fritto Portofino (deep fried prawns, scallops and calamari, garlic aioli and Calabrian dip). I think that covered all bases.
The food came as cooked, which is perfect for sharing and meant all the dishes arrived piping hot.
First to come was our Fritto Portofino; a crispy deep fried basket (even the thyme and lemon, which I may have accidentally had a chomp on….). The scallops were so tender and prawns plump and juicy. The calamari had a lovely ‘bite’ to it, none of this rubbery texture you so often find.
We then tucked into a bowl of agnolotti piemontesi, which tasted quite exquisite. The meat filled pasta had a nice mellow taste which was complimented by the stronger broth flavour and the earthy truffle.
Next our lobster tails arrived. My previous experiences with lobster have yet to wow me; however this lobster left me salivating! The garlic and chilli sauce soaked into the tail shells and seasoned the soft lobster flesh perfectly.
Last but by no means least was the pork belly. Oh my goodness it was so succulent. You could see the distinct layers of crispy fat, smoother fat and meat which gave the perfect ‘crunchy then soft’ texture. This dish felt a little more British with the tangy vinegary taste and roasted potato, however was very much welcome.
Thankfully these smaller plates left room for a pudding! And what a pudding it was. On the recommendation of our extremely helpful waiter we opted for the Dolce Cicchetti or the ‘sweet small plates’ for those who like myself are not fluent in Italian!
A jiffy later out came our selection. A light pistachio mouse cake, indulgent Torte Settveli (chocolate and hazelnut cake), mille feuille, panna cotta with raspberry sauce, masala wine and dusting of icing sugar.
Goodness it was delicious. Each flavour was completely different, and I took joy in taking bites of each in turn. The nutty pistachio, the chocolate cake laced with hazelnut and the layered pastry of the sweet mille feuille. The tangy raspberry sauce complimented the creamy panda cotta. We culminated our meal with a cheeky sharp swig of masala wine.
To conclude Cicchetti is one of my favourite new places to chomp in London. You pay a little more for the decadent menu and luxurious setting, approximately £6.95 – £25 for each cicchetti plate. However coming from someone who watches the pennies let me say it’s very much worth it!
Reporter: Aspen Glencross @gollumcrackcorn
30 Wellington St.
Tel: 020 7240 6339