Orso 1

27 Wellington Street , London, WC2E 7DB

10 reviews

52 Italian Covent Garden

Orso exterior canopy 1

SquareMeal Review of Orso

DUE TO CLOSE ON 15 JULY 2017

Orso first put down roots in this former orchid warehouse for Covent Garden market in 1985, and has since become a hardy Italian perennial of Theatreland dining – as has its NYC sibling. The softly lit basement displays vintage tiling and monochrome photos of stage stars: a pleasing backdrop for perusing the traditional menu of antipasti, pasta, secondi and desserts. Start with crispy zucchini fritti or creamy buffalo mozzarella with basil, ahead of fork-twirling ribbons of tagliolini in a zesty sauce of fresh crab, lemon and chilli. Meaty mains include strips of calf’s liver, simply pan-fried and topped with crispy pancetta and sage leaves. Pizza and seasonal risotto dishes are alternatives, while classic treats such as tiramisu and an all-Italian wine list lend support. Friendly staff, good-value theatre menus (£16.75/19.50 for two/three courses) and the lunchtime shopper special (steak, potatoes and salad for £12.95) ensure Orso’s continued popularity. 

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Covent Garden Tube Station 342m

Temple Tube Station 480m

Address

Address: 27 Wellington Street , London WC2E 7DB

Area: Covent Garden

Opening times

Mon-Sun 12N-11.45pm (Sun -10.30pm)

Nearby Landmarks

Duchess Theatre 51m

Lyceum Theatre 54m

Details

Telephone: 020 7240 5269

Website:

Cuisine: Italian

Lunch: £17/19 (2/3 courses)

7.3

Food & Drink: 7.1

Service: 7.9

Atmosphere: 7.6

Value: 6.8

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Elaine P. 27 March 2017

booked a pre theatre meal and although we arrived 20 minutes early, were still shown to a table. We chose from the pre set menu, which had good choices and the food was excellent. We arranged to come back after the show, for dessert and coffee, which is a great service to offer, if you don't have time to complete your 3 courses. The staff were polite, attentive and responsive to our requests. Highly recommend and will definitely eat here again in the future

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Brandon F. 28 November 2016

Thanks for a great. evening!Great setting, great fun. Cocktails were ok, nothing amazing - but overall, a great night

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Nick C. 08 January 2016

My wife and myself visited Orso on New Years Eve prior to going to the Theatre. From the moment we arrived the staff were welcoming and attentive. The food was excellent, we ordered from the a la carte but were also offered the theatre meal deal. We were given enough time to relax, in what was a very calming atmosphere, and enjoy our meal without being rushed. The staff were excellent throughout, making good recommendations as to food and wine. The only downside was that the wine was a bit on the expensive side, we did treat ourselves to a nice bottle of Prosecco though. This was our first visit to Orso and I hope will not be our last.

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 0.0

Brenda C. 01 January 2016

First visit to Orso. I had heard good things about it some years ago. Nice place and friendly staff but the food was dreadful. My 6 year old ordered a pizza which was far too greasy. I ordered calves liver and was presented with a view cremated bits of tasteless liver and bacon and a slice of polenta which was hardly lukewarm. I said it had obviously not been cooked fresh - probably just put on the plate and hardly warmed up! I advised the waitress that I would never have served up a lunch in that condition and did not even get an apology or a reduction on the bill The ice cream was OK - anyone can dish up a few scoops of ice cream We will not be going to Orso again - more than disappointing

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

David W. 20 November 2014

Excellent venue in theatre land. Good quality value pre-theatre menu. Friendly prompt service but not rushed. The restaurant is below ground and has a somewhat intimate feel. A good place for 'people watching'. You can sense the history of the place. Décor a bit quirky - another time I would ask for a table further away from the kitchen access. For failing eyesight the light level is a little dim! We were amused by the Manager's individual style as he zipped around the tables - he never stopped - everything ran like clockwork. Thank you. We'll be back.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

David A. 21 July 2014

Perfect venue after an evening at the Opera House – relaxing, friendly service, good staple Italian food and wine. The restaurant manages to be relaxed and to have a (quiet) buzz at the same time.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Tom W. 09 October 2013

Orso was recommended by our concierge at The Savoy, which turned out to be the only disappointment of our entire trip. We found the surroundings unimpressive, the service slow (by a gruff waitress), and the food mediocre at best, as well as overpriced. Whatever illustrious history this restaurant enjoyed is long-since past.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

David J. gold reviewer 01 June 2011

I’m not much of a theatre goer – I wish I were, I’d be eating out in the West End more – but there’s warmth and security at home, and a half-decent bunch of dramas on the Beeb. I did have dinner at Orso the other week though, a classic and oddly attractive Italian restaurant in Covent Garden. The elegance of the surroundings are continued inside where a staircase leads down to the dining room in which old black and white photographs of stage and screen stars adorn the walls. There is an air of sophistication to the interior and a bustle in mid-week with almost every table occupied and waiters busying themselves with plates and wines. As for the menu, it’s country Italian cuisine. Tremendous dishes such as roast halibut with braised fennel or venison steaks with cranberries and roast potatoes. The indigenous wine list is outstanding: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, and Dolcetto – all very well chosen and highly complimentary of the food on offer, as expected from the fashionable Maccaroni’s[*]. Currently there are special deals available in an attempt to maintain the good custom and hammer the recession. The Pre-Theatre Option of two-courses for £16 and three-courses for £18 is well priced, plus there’s the Weekend Brunch Special of two-courses for £18.50 and three-courses for £20.50 (includes a Bloody Mary, Bellini or glass of Prosecco). I took my good friend Truffles and we ordered from the Theatre Menu. For starters, we shared parmesan-breaded sardine fillets with lemon zest and herbs, which was light and zingy. My main of fish stew with tiger prawns, monkfish, calamari, wild mussels, white beans and herbs though packed full of fish oils and Omega 3, was boggy and deep. Truffles too noticed the watery consistency of the soup. Her crispy pork with sage potatoes and applesauce was a simple design and seemed far more of an English tradition than Italian, tasting rich and oh so importantly, fatty underneath the crackling. Her plate was cold on arrival and this surely cooled the food from kitchen to table and as such, throughout the meal. The staff were overall friendly and the young, Italian waiter who served us seemed to fit perfectly into the authentic setting. And speaking of settings, I really didn’t mind the basement hideaway, as I thought I would. It lacked the buzz from outside and the lack of windows denied any view of colourful Covent Garden, the Lyceum or indeed, the neighbouring Christopher’s, but you can feel relaxed inside and the minimal street entrance makes it feel esoteric. Dessert consisted of orange and mascarpone cheesecake with marinated plums. I adore cheesecake, but not as it turns out, marinated plums. The mascarpone was strong and gloopy, famed for its use on dishes in the Lombardy region (thanks Google). The sorbet arrived in a melted hodgepodge. The mint and berry overlapping into the bitter lemon and served in diminutive portions, perhaps expected from the economical menu? It wasn’t the best Italian food I’ve tasted, nor necessarily the most welcoming of settings, yet there was care and a genuine spill of attention and hospitality from the staff. And for the most part the food is true to the famed rusticity of Italian country cooking. [*] A “macaroni” (or formerly “maccaroni” (OED) in mid-18th-century England), was a fashionable fellow who dressed and spoke in an outlandishly affected and epicene manner. The term pejoratively referred to a man who “exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion”in terms of clothes, fastidious eating and gambling.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Nick B. bronze reviewer 14 December 2009

16 of us went to Orso for our family christmas sunday lunch, which gave us all the opportunity to exchange presents! We all took the brunch menu, which we were advised had changed since printing (the soup) and one of the three main courses were limited in availability – a bit surprising! The restaurant , which is located downstairs, was rather quiet which suited us well given we were able to congregate around the bar as we gradually all arrived but would have lacked any atmosphere if just 2-4 of us had gone.. The service was good, friendly and efficient throughout and was a highlight of the visit. The food was mixed – the roast pork was good, as was the soup apparently but one of the main course salmons had to be sent back as it had clearly been under the hot lamps for much too long. The tagialtelli main was OK according to ‘her in doors’. Alain, who I think was the manager, helped us with the choice of our wines are his recommendations worked well. Enjoyable occasion but not a compelling proposition overall although this maybe because it was a sunday lunch rather than an evening occasion.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Sheba bronze reviewer 13 April 2009

Orso is quite simply my favourite restaurant in London. What's not to like? It doesn't need to brag – it hides itself away in a secret basement in Covent Garden. Don't, as some seem to, hover outside wondering if it's worth taking a look downstairs – it is. Service is always friendly and nothing is ever too much trouble. We go there frequently, outside peak times we never need to book and there is always, magically, a table – even when the place is heaving. The staff know their stuff, the Service is slick and efficient, but warm and friendly at the same time. This is the place for pre and post theatre dining, and they know how to make sure the timing is always right to allow for this. There is a very good value pre-theatre menu. The regular menu changes daily with a number of favourites always on offer. I would probably describe the food as modern rustic italian if there is such a thing – the fresh pasta and risottos are superb. Everything is served on mismatched colourful crockery and the atmosphere is always buzzing. Orso gets everything right, I can't fault it. There are many trendier and more expensive restaurants which just don't have the same feelgood factor as this one, which is why I'm giving it 10 for everything!