Heinz Beck of La Pergola, Rome’s only Michelin three-star restaurant, is back in London, this time at Sir Rocco Forte’s distinguished Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair.
Beck, whose previous London showing was Apsleys at the Lanesborough, has relaxed his outlook a little here. Casual in the way that only a high-end Mayfair Italian is ‘casual’, Beck at Brown’s (which replaces Hix Mayfair in the hotel’s attractively refurbished wood-panelled grill room) invites diners to follow their own appetites. This could mean puffs of anchovy crostini with a Spritzer at aperitivo hour, a simple plate of tagliolini alle vongole at lunch, or a five-course tasting menu with matching wines for a celebration. Antipasti are elegant and easy; vitello tonnato (a little under-‘tunnied’ perhaps) comes with the nice addition of deep-fried caperberries and bluefin tuna with soy and seaweed.
Beck is best known for his pasta: the signature fagotelli (pasta parcels) have a hot liquid ‘carbonara’ centre that elevates a familiar standby into something spectacular, though the spaghetti cacio e pepe is not improved by the addition of lime-marinated raw prawns. Creative flourishes take a back seat in main courses such as sea bass with caponata or beef fillet with chicory and horseradish. To finish, choose seasonal ice creams or a 21st-century ‘affogato’ update on classic tiramisu. The restaurant’s white-jacketed waiters are from the old school – as are its eye-watering wine prices.