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Al Duca is the kind of reliable Italian that shuns fireworks in order to get the job done. Tricked out in terracotta tones, its looks are modest, but that’s all part of the venue’s ongoing appeal: here is a genuine neighbourhood restaurant among St James’s bigger hitters. Tastefully rendered tradition is the dominant culinary theme: to start, try the bitter hit of sautéed endive and radicchio with goats’ cheese and toasted hazelnuts or Culatello ham with pear, ginger, black pepper and truffle compote. Pasta includes classic crab tagliolini and homemade pappardelle with a rich beef ragù (as well as gluten-free options), while secondi are based around prime hunks of meat and seafood – monkfish with mushrooms pleased one reader. Puddings such as tiramisu and profiteroles hit the universally acknowledged sweet spots, and the “respectable” Italian wine list offers some pleasant discoveries (biodynamics included) for under £30.
020 3641 1875
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