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|Address:||10 Northumberland Avenue10 Northumberland Avenue, London, London WC2N 5AE|
|Tel:||020 7998 0555|
|Price: £64.00||Wine: £33.00||Champagne: £65.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 10am-3pm 6-11pm|
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There's no denying that the setting for Massimo is overwhelmingly impressive. It's the kind of place you expect young MPs and civil servants from nearby Whitehall to be frequenting. The enormous, globular light fittings alone prompt 5 minutes of discussion (how do they clean them? what if they need to change a bulb?). This sets culinary expectations as high as the ceilings themselves and the cooking sadly falls well short. A starter of chargrilled octopus tasted more of the char than anything else. My crab risotto main was just a big, brown sloppy-looking plate, with a few crab shavings to break the monotony: not appealing to the eye at all. Whilst it had a pleasantly rich bisque-y flavour, the taste was as one dimensional as the dish looked. My torta della nonna had a pastry crust so hard it was impossible to break without risking the lives of nearby diners and the filling tasted of fluffy but uncooked egg white rather than the creamy, light ricotta it is supposed to be. My companions fared no better with uneventful starters and mains and, horror, desserts unfinished. Whilst service is friendly it is not slick enough for this venue: they wait way too long to take our orders, despite our ‘come hither’ looks; not all the courses arrive at the same time, leaving some to wonder if they will receive their dish at all, whilst the rest of us eyeball our cooling food; clearing away (one rogue dessert plate overstays its welcome by a good 5 minutes) and bill-bringing is also slow. We have a G&T, shared bottle of white wine (between 5), 3 courses, pay £70 a head and feel duped. There are better Italians in London for half the price. This explains why the place is half empty even on a Thursday night. Those MPs and civil servants have headed for Kennington Tandoori instead…