Eating out isn’t always about wanting to experiment and try all sorts of innovative new flavour combinations. Sometimes you just want food that you know you’re going to enjoy, a nice bottle of wine and a pleasant atmosphere; this is exactly what Marylebone’s Il Baretto is all about, even if it doesn’t come cheaply. The food isn’t ground-breaking and neither is the decor, but it’s still a very pleasant place to go for some pretty decent – and sometimes decadent – Italian cookery.
The restaurant’s navy façade initially screams classic French bistro rather than upscale Italian trattoria. However, once you’re inside, a framed print of an Italian flag hangs from the exposed brick wall and Italian TV blares in the background. It’s nice that the restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously but equally there’s something a little jarring about football being shown in a restaurant where your napkins are refolded when you leave the table. The interior of the two-floor restaurant is simple but cosy, with the downstairs feeling slightly more formal than street level.
When it comes to the cooking, there isn’t a lot to complain about. A subtle tuna carpaccio comes served atop a disc of crushed avocado while crisp slices of rosemary bread are perfect for dipping into the creamy burrata. And we wolfed down the acorn-fed San Daniele ham generously served on a long wooden charcuterie board.
Larger dishes included a wonderfully rich fillet of beef served alongside foie gras and a deep red wine jus and finished with the earthy notes of shaved black truffle. If you can, try and leave space for a classic but particularly special tiramisu served in something resembling a silver goblet. The accompanying wine list is impressively extensive, but with few bottles under £30, you might just want to stick to glasses or carafes.
Il Baretto is old fashioned and by no means cheap, but if you’re after top-quality Italian produce cooked really rather well and can afford the hefty bill, it’s a name worth knowing.