Restaurants on Mayfair’s Albemarle Street could, sometimes, be accused of being a little style over substance. Albemarle new boy Il Gattopardo is certainly stylish, and parent company D.ream International (which owns Coya, Roka and Zuma) knows a thing or two about good-looking restaurants. On approach, a sartorial doorman opens the door into a world of timeless Italian style - an elegant composition of marble, geometric inlaid wood panelling and art deco lighting. Plush blue banquettes match the colour of Murano glass ornaments, whilst dining chairs and counter stools provide a range of different places to park yourself.
And that’s just the dining room. Beyond you’ll find a beautiful foliage-laden terrazza, illuminated via a skylight, and further still a bar, where you can sit for a pre- or post-dinner drink and a snack. It’s beautifully-designed, with hospitality to match from well-drilled staff.
With the style portion checked off the list, how about the substance? The menu covers a wide range of sub-genres, from salads to crudo plates, cheese, meat and fish, pasta, pizzette, risotto and more. It could all be a bit discombobulating, were the staff not so helpful with guidance.
There are some real gems among the crudo section particularly. A £32 plate of 24 month aged Culatello di Zibello ham is among the best we’ve had in a long time, and a neat assembly of cured Sicilian prawns, citrus zest and olive oil is inspired - the sweet, juicy prawns and grassy olive oil combining to be so much more than the sum of their parts.
If we were scared that Il Gattopardo may not deliver on the plate, those fears were gone by the time a hulking, golden Milanese chop arrived, with caper-spiked butter to splash over the top. Lots of work has gone into the cocktail menu too, which includes some excellent Negroni variations and a hefty vermouth collection, plus an excellent chilled limoncello made in-house. Every aspect of the experience here has been carefully considered, putting Il Gattopardo firmly among our favourite upmarket Italian spots in London.