“The canteen of many a local”, Cecconi’s is every bit as slick as that reader description suggests, given that the locale in question is the Mayfair of fund managers and gallery owners.
Expect “a wonderful welcome” (staff will do their best to accommodate you if you arrive without a booking) and a “great buzz” (the people-watching is “wonderful”), whether you turn up for an Anglo-Italian breakfast, weekend brunch before a show at the Royal Academy over the road or an evening blowout dripping with more glamour than the jewellers on neighbouring Bond Street.
Simple, “easy-to-eat” Italian food is the order of the day: tangy cacio e pepe or subtle vitello tonnato might be followed by a gigantic veal milanese and profiteroles drowned in a hot sauce that melts the pistachio ice cream within the pastry. It’s retro to be sure (the food of fondly remembered parties), but it’s rarely anything short of “delicious”.
But while the cooking may be relatively straightforward, complex hierarchies are involved in the seating plan – secure a table at one of the discreet emerald-green velvet banquettes and you know you’ve made it in life. Show-offs, meanwhile, might prefer a window seat where they can bask in the envious glances of passers-by – especially when the frontage is open to the street in summer.
The really chic thing to do, however, is to turn your back on the whole scene, bag a stool at the bar and nibble on cicchetti while knocking back Prosecco by the glass. As they say in Italy, la vita e bella!