Zafferano 22

15 Lowndes Street , London, SW1X 9EY

10 reviews

61 Italian Knightsbridge

  • zafferano london south west
  • zafferano london south west restaurant

SquareMeal Review of Zafferano

For more than 20 years Zafferano has managed to maintain the highest reputation despite changes of chef and the vagaries of London’s restaurant scene, so it’s safe to say that this Belgravia sophisticate is now very much part of the capital’s gastronomic establishment. No wonder it’s a go-to for a smart international crowd, who come here in search of reliable, precise Italian cooking with one foot the classical camp. Our all-time favourites include their signature lobster linguine, chargrilled rib of beef with roast potatoes and veal Milanese with saffron risotto, but in keeping with the seasons, there’s a sprinkling of white truffles in the autumn and black truffles in summer. Meanwhile, those looking for more innovative dishes should peruse the daily specials. Zafferano also scores highly when it comes to creature comforts (in the luxurious well-upholstered dining room and on the attractive pavement terrace), while top-notch service and a patrician regional Italian wine list add to its metropolitan kudos.


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6.2

Food & Drink: 6.4

Service: 6.8

Atmosphere: 6.3

Value: 5.5

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Foodess platinum reviewer 14 July 2013

This place dipped for a while since I wrote in 2009 below. Now with a familiar chef at the helm (whose food, for many years I adored at Aubergine in Marlow), we try to dine at Zafferano whenever we are within striking distance. A few weeks ago, I had halibut with a walnut pesto and capers – so simple but faultless and the sort of food you could eat again and again. The other day we popped in rather late in the afternoon thinking we may have missed service. We ordered a bowl of pasta before moving on for an appointment, but not before, my partner had ordered a second bowl of the same veal ravioli with gremolada, which just about says it all. Overall, I'd say my score should be 8.5. Z was pretty busy before and after we left on Sunday evening which speaks volumes. Not enamoured by the menu at first glance and disappointed that lobster wasn’t available, I didn’t expect great things. Oh, did my mood lift as we went for 3 savoury courses plus a shared pud which had been prepped & cooked to perfection throughout. Not a revolutionary experience but just scrummy yummy. Impressed by Maitre d’hôtel’s recommendation for my main plus a Sicilian wine – the name I’m still trying to recall. Naturally an Italian leaning was expected but with astounding choice and some reasonably priced bottles exactly as SqM states et al. Venue was chosen on the basis of easy walk from hotel and my partner fancying Italian fare that evening – glad he did as we’d return without hesitation.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 26 January 2013

An Italian classic that has been around for ages. A slight decline over recent past but still a top notch Italian offering. For a treat (but very pricy) go there during truffle season.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

David H. 21 November 2012

Dinner with two courses was £310 which included 2 bottles house champagne for which they charged £132 + service [£152]. Told the head waiter that Square Meals had listed the champagne at £50 per bottle and would he adjust the bill. He said he wasn't interested and wouldn't make any adjustment. We were appalled by this attitude and the overall indifference of the manager…The food was very. poor value and very disappointing and many of the dishes had a supplementary charge over and above the extremely expensive price for the set menu. No a la carte menu .

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

The Cheese platinum reviewer 13 November 2012

Pasta can strike me as incongruous in a dolled-up setting, what with its humble roots and emphasis on provenance over pomp. But given spectacular reviews, we gave Zafferano a whirl when wandering through sunny Belgravia one Friday evening. We rang ahead and were told that only space in the bar was available, which suited us fine. (The main-restaurant embargo struck me as odd when we arrived though, as several tables remained untouched right up until the end of the night). When offered a glass of champagne – a standard upsell in these moneyed parts – I was too busy swooning over the waiters to protest. Each one was unnervingly dashing and sharply turned out – just the right side of flirtatious, utterly charming and almost exclusively Italian – thus coaxing me into a £20 splurge before my jacket was in the cloak room. The now-ubiquitous burrata is a regular on the menu, but you’d be wrong to yawn. (I’m pretty sure Locatelli was one of the first chefs to unveil this delicacy’s oozing, creamy loveliness to the nation, and for this reason I harbour a major crush on both man and cheese). Heavenly starters included an elegant, seasonal salad brimming with squeaky garden peas and teeny broad beans. This sweet medley was made all the more decadent when garnished with nutty, rich slivers of San Daniele ham, pilfered from my other half. The wheels fell off the service wagon when our second course arrived, as we were still sharing our starters. There was a bit of an awkward fumble when the waiter seemed to expect us to either gobble the remainder at speed or to simply welcome the dishes as the swiftest mains ever. As a result, I fear we may have rocketed from 0-£180 (including wine) in less than an hour. Fresh pasta with lamb ragú and pecorino was moreish and toothsome: a good, honest plateful of totally unfussy comfort and joy. So too was my arrabiata with its fat, tubular pasta, a peppy sauce and al dente bite. But chef or no chef, I’m guessing a seasoned Italian can whip up a pasta dough in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Even if Zafferano’s olive oil is the most exquisite extra virgin from a single estate, and the San Marzano tomatoes are imported with the level of care usually reserved to vintage cars or diamonds, how do you conjure up a price structure where even the simplest pasta dish is nudging 20 good English pounds? Maybe prices are routine for the postcode, given it’s not uncommon to see punters at neighbouring ‘deli’ Ottolenghi dropping a ton on a picnic for four. But two courses for £36.50? Going the whole hog with four courses – your primi, secondi and all that business – will give you scant change from a £50 note. Cripes. There’s no respite when it comes to wine either: the list is vastly dominated by magnificent Italian grapes, and – if you’re a novice like me – you’ll be grateful for the steer when it comes to ordering something other than the Super Tuscans (because you've heard of them, which must make them good). Our Barolo was amazing, but the pricetag was massive. The décor is smart and ripe with explosive sprays of blooms, but each time I recalled the prohibitive cash assault awaiting us, it took the shine off somewhat. While I was wowed by Locanda Locatelli’s five-star service and finesse when I visited a couple of years ago, Zafferano seems to be masquerading as more of a neighbourhood restaurant (albeit to seriously upmarket locals). In all fairness, why shouldn’t it?! And is it reasonable for me to pooh-pooh a restaurant on the basis that it’s too pricey for me? Lovely though Zafferano is, I’d struggle to say that dinner here represents value, or that I can justify coming back. I realise Italian restaurants are ten-a-penny across London and that a beauty is a serious find, but it’s simply not in my budget and I can't really get my head around the numbers. Zucca’s a more realistic (and ulimately more satisfying) destination for shallower pockets, with fab food, wine and atmosphere at a fraction of the price.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 3.0

NomNom 08 November 2012

I took clients here for lunch a couple of weeks ago and I'm afraid to say I was really underwhelmed. I wasn't expecting great things, I just wasn't expecting there to be anything not to like. It strikes me as being a kind of ‘meh’ restaurant. Pop in for a pasta type place, minimal fuss and service such that you don't notice it, and that's usually a really good thing. Unfortunately we had to wait just a bit too long for the menus and for our drinks. I had the Brill which was just fine, my client had the crab spaghetti, which at £17 didn't quite sit well. No frills, small portion, but I'm told really tasty in any case. We also had to wait for the bill which drives me loopy. So it wasn't bad, I'd just choose to spend lunchtime somewhere else if I had the choice again. The flower arrangements were nice.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Frank 08 May 2012

We had dinner at Zafferano last week and it was once again an outstanding experience. I am an Italian food lover and Zafferano still is, after all these years,my number one choice. I had ossobuco ravioli, which were at their best, and shared an amazingly tender and juicy fiorentina steak with my girlfriend. We ended the meal with the best tiramisu in town. Outstanding meal and excellent attentive service.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Theodore L. silver reviewer 23 March 2012

One of the best Italian restaurants in central London with high standards of cooking and service. Pleasant and lively atmosphere.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 1.0

Continental Diner platinum reviewer 06 March 2012

We came here again after a while without visiting in Autumn 2011 during fhe truffle season. I am a great admierer of Locanda Locatelli, and so have had (and kept ) a soft spot for Zafferano as the Locatielli saga began here as we all know. Now, there is the dreaded effect of “resting on one's laurels” but in the case of Zafferano what seems to have happened is “not changing the name” and “keeping the place open”. It was abysmal. I cannot believe that there are many places in London which have declined so far so quickly, and that in what is one of London's most desireable locations… The service was very poor, the white wine was warm, the pasta overcooked and notably mediocre, the mains completely unispired and the bill hefty. Even the restrooms were not properly attended to! What a pity, is all one can say.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Tony H. 27 May 2011

we went to dine here in their private dining room downstairs as a businees evening. Too many were cramped round the table making it rather like having dinner on a long haul economy seat basis where all seats were taken. The starters were a wide selection of Italian including seafood, salad selections, tomatoes with excellent Italian cheese and Parma ham & smoked beef. Everyone tucked in quickly. I decided against Sea Bass as a main course as all reastaurants seem to be serving this nowadays, despite some attempt by the restaurant to persuade me , and I chose veal on the bone. A mistake. It was very undercooked, but my neighbour offered me a taste of the sea bass which was excellent. Vegetables to accompany the veal (which came with the dish) were mash ,well prepared and tasty, but the fesh peas were dull. The vegetable portions were too small for the amount of meat on the plate. Sweets were a choice of sorbet of the day, tiramasu or apple pie & ice cream. I chose the last which was the best item I eat. Wines, white Pinot Grigio, and a red from Sardinia were excellent- neither likely to be found outsde a specialist merchant. All in all reasonable but spoilt by poor main course. Service was attentive and good.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

A London lawyer 28 March 2011

We visited Zafferano with expectations of a superior Italian dining experience, the occassion being our wedding anniversary. Having stayed the weekend at a local hotel next to the restaurant, our expectations had further been built up by the concierge. Overall, we can only say that the meal was a disappointment. Our starters (Broccoli Soup for me, Scallops for my wife), were both good. The Mains (Lobster Fricasee – a £15 surcharge on the set menu price – and a Lobster Linguine) were poor. The lobster in both dishes was overcooked. My wife's pasta was not simply “al dente”, as the very amiable and genuinely nice manager suggested – it was uncooked. After having to send the pasta back, it came back relatively well cooked – but the fact was that the dish was tasteless, in our view. Not worth the total price – which was around £125, with one prossecco for me. We're sure that the reputation of this establishment is well deserved and the staff (save for one gentleman) are very polite and provide good service. Would we return or recommend this restaurant? A definite no.

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