Visit: 3 February 2023, dinner for two people
The food at Sartoria is inspired by Chef Patron Francesco Mazzei’s Calabrian home region and the surrounding areas of Italy. The à la carte menu is traditionally structured, with antipasti (salads, raw fish and cured meats) followed by a primi (soups and pasta starters) and a secondi (main courses). Francesco is famous for promoting Italian produce and the menu showcases some of the very best Italian ingredients – spreadable spicy sausage ‘nduja, burrata (a cow or buffalo milk cheese, where a “pouch” of stretched mozzarella cheese is filled with cream-soaked stracciatella) and Sardinian fregola (a type of pasta from Sardinia, similar to couscous).
The wine list is extensive and includes a wide selection of Italian wines.
Sartoria has a very good bar that serves excellent cocktails, and especially good Negronis. When you enter the front door, you walk through the bar to get to the restaurant at the back. We arrived early for dinner so we sat at the bar and ordered some cocktails.
We were escorted from the bar to our table, and were offered a selection of Italian breads that included grissini, ciabatta and focaccia. The breads were made from scratch at the restaurant and were all of very high quality.
For the antipasti course, I ordered the charcoal scallop served in its shell with ‘nduja (the spicy pork sausage from Calabria) and salsa verde. I very much enjoyed this combination of flavours. The spicy pork worked well with the sweetness of the scallop without overpowering it. Our other antipasti was the charcoal grilled octopus with creamed potatoes, watercress, and smoked ricotta. The charcoal had imparted a slight smokiness to the octopus which was precisely cooked and perfectly tender. These were excellent starters.
For the primi courses, we chose the venison ragu with fettuccine, and the burrata and ‘nduja tortelli with balsamic vinegar from Modena. This was a seriously good ragu. It had deep flavour, coating the pasta perfectly, topped with freshly grated Parmesan. The tortelli was bursting with the spicy flavour from the ‘nduja and the creaminess of the burrata, balanced by the acidity of the Balsamic. Again, both dishes were excellent.
Our secondi course was the huge veal Milanese for two people. This was presented and sliced at the table. The veal was precisely cooked, not too dry, and with good flavour. This is a lot of meat, even for two people, but I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again. We also ordered side dishes of roast potatoes, spinach with garlic and chilli, and fabulous deep fried zucchini. In many restaurants the deep fried zucchini are tasteless and greasy, but here they were crispy and moreish. They are much better than eating a bowl of fries.
For dessert we ordered the classic tiramisu dessert with Amaretto liqueur. This is a simple dessert, but I had been told that Sartoria serves one of the best tiramisu, so I wanted to try it. I wasn’t disappointed. Simple but impressive.
We finished the meal with grappa and coffees.
Service throughout, in the bar and restaurant, was very good. We very much enjoyed the experience and will be returning.
Francesco Mazzei is Chef Patron at Sartoria. After catering college, in 1992 he moved from Calabria to Rome and joined The Grand Hotel. Then he went to London, learnt English and worked at The Dorchester in Mayfair, for Willi Elsener and Henry Brosi. Returning to Rome, he worked at Michelin-starred La Terrazza dell’Eden.
Francesco has opened the Santini restaurants in Edinburgh and Milan, the Royal Sporting Club in Bangkok, Franco’s on Jermyn Street, and the Corbin and King restaurant St Alban in London, as well as venues across the world alongside restaurateur Alan Yau.
At the age of 34, he opened L’Anima restaurant in the City of London where dishes from Calabria, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia were featured.
Following an extensive refurbishment, Sartoria was relaunched in 2015 with Francesco at the helm.
Since the opening of Sartoria, Francesco has also opened Radici in Islington and Fiume in Battersea.
Francesco is a great advocate of Southern Italian specialities, and he returns home to seek out new products every few months. He advises the Calabrian government on how to promote their artisan goods outside of the country, and is an ambassador for the citrus fruit bergamot, and the spreadable spicy sausage ‘nduja, both of which are produced in the region. He is credited with single-handedly bringing ‘nduja to the restaurants and dinner tables of the UK.
Outside the restaurant:
Looking in to the restaurant: