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When it opened in the mid-80s, Orso was a star-studded, post-theatre haunt & a pioneer of new-wave Italian cooking. The celeb crowd has moved on, but this ‘basement hideaway’ still exudes a
certain charm, & remains a pleasantly dressed-down choice for dinner amid photos of the stars. Readers welcome the ‘genuine spill of attention & hospitality’ from staff who serve up
colourful terracotta plates of rustic Italian food such as veal & parmesan meatballs, buffalo mozzarella with roasted tomatoes & grilled courgettes or minestrone with pesto. The daily
changing menu also has a decent selection of pizzas & pastas (all around the £11 mark), while special set menus (pre-theatre is £17/19 for two/three courses) offer further value. An all-Italian
wine list ticks off the regions, but doesn’t come cheap.
So what’s important to you when you visit a restaurant? A) Does it have to be all shiny and new with the enamel dishes fresh out of bubble wrap? B) Does it have to be so cool that it commands a 50 strong line of hipsters queuing outside 24/7? Or C) does it simply just simply have to deliver great food, service and value?If you answered either A) or B) then you may as well stop reading now and wait for our next review, but if you answered C) then we think you might just like Orso. It’s the sister restaurant to Joe Allen which links to Orso via an underground passage. Both restaurants recently changed hands after Richard Polo, 78, who has run the restaurants for 35 years decided it was time to sell up to Carluccio’s chairman Stephen Gee and restaurateurs Tim Healy and Lawrence Hartley...
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