Following its recent takeover of the rooftop space at Selfridges, International Italian restaurant group San Carlo has also opened this Regent Street site. The interiors are as glam as you’d expect from the brand, incorporating a marble-topped bar, soft grey banquette seating and a gorgeous outdoor terrace whimsically decorated with real flowers. Staff are equally smart, gussied up in white jackets and oozing Italian charm – although we wish they’d been more attentive.
Superstar Italian chef Alberico Penati heads the kitchen and has designed an extensive seasonal menu. From the antipasti, we were most impressed by the burrata: a creamy dome of mozzarella served alongside slithers of smooth avocado and herby pesto. Supremely sweet and fresh Dorset crab is another enticement, as is the bread basket, filled with focaccia and accompanied by a moreish avocado dip.
From a handful of primi options, including a hearty plateful of paccheri with king prawns, the standout was the spinach and ricotta ravioli: tender, buttery parcels generously filled with ricotta and spinach. Mains range from the light – such as grilled tuna served with roasted Sicilian aubergine – to the robust (if you’re hungry, try the hefty veal Milanese that piles on the carbs with plenty of sautéed potatoes). Round off a meal with classic Italian desserts: the wickedly rich tiramisu, for instance, or a selection of soft, sticky gelato served in retro sundae glasses.
A meal at San Carlo St James’s won’t come cheap, but anyone seeking old-school Italian glamour is in for a treat.