Contemporary Italian Dining in Chelsea at L’Artigiano.
He has returned to London to open his own place, L’Artigiano which means The Artisan. It’s a good name for a restaurant that showcases Executive Chef Ignacio Ruggiero’s distinctive and innovative take on classic Italian dishes with the offer including a 2 or 3 course Set Lunch Menu, an 8-course tasting menu as well as the A La Carte. Leandro brings us an exciting selection of dishes with matched wines from their wine list that includes 148 labels from 20 regions of Italy for our review meal.
The interior is very chic with dark grey brick walls, light grey wooden floors and dark wood fittings and a cool jazz piano soundtrack to keep me happy.
A glass of Revidi Vino Spumante, Millesimato Brut Trentodoc welcomes us with its vivacious spritz and a hint of grapefruit. Dry and elegant – a bit like actor Ronald Colman in a glass, it comes served in a coupe…and is soon joined by an amuse-bouche of cucumber spiked with the amazing molecular citrus burst of orange caviar. This nod to chef Ferran Adria is a sign that the food at L’Artigiano is a much more contemporary and exciting take on traditional Italian dishes than we had expected.
The Antipasti menu continues with this theme. Parmigiana con Burrata e Polvere di Prezzemolo is a reconstructed classic Aubergine Parmigiana. The aubergine is first baked with the interior being formed into an aubergine cream mixed with a rich tomato sauce and then topped with tiny dollops of fresh Burrata Pugliese, baby basil leaves, a 36-month parmesan crisp and a sprinkle of powdered parsley. The aubergine skin is then cooked for a second time and acts as a vessel for the other ingredients. The interior was rich, smokey, intense and utterly delicious. Leandro matched it with a glass of Santa Sofia Antichello, Pinot Grigio Blush delle Venezie, 2019. Fresh tasting, light in colour and full of raspberry notes it was a lighter alternative to a red at this point in the meal.
Insalata di Mare is as sophisticated a seafood salad as I’ve eaten. The blend of langoustine ball, orange caviar, clams, sea herbs, tonnata sauce, oyster mayo, burrata, bottarga and the acidic zing of a Mojito Sphere created a plate full of strong, salty flavours with an exciting mix of textures. I love it, but it’s for seafood fans only! The fresh apple notes of our glass of Cantina Cerquetta, Frascati DOC 2018, Lazio is a great accompaniment.
We then try two wonderful pasta dishes. Gnocchi all` Amatriciana is a staple of Cucina Povera – Italian peasant cooking – a warming plate of potato gnocchi in a tomato Amatriciana ‘froth’ decorated with crisp shards of Tropea onions, a Parmesan cheese crust and small cubes of fried pig’s cheek to give a salty edge to the dish, perfectly matched with the blackcurrant jam and chocolate notes and deep purple colour of our glass of Triusco Primitive di Manduria.
I love sea urchin (ricci) but its pungent flavour is not for everyone. But Risotto alla Cipolla, Ricci di Mare, Criollo Cacao uses top quality cocoa powder to soften the intensity with a gentle sweetness. The risotto is properly cooked al dente and the chewy mouth feel and cherry notes of our accompanying Sardinian Siddura, ‘Bacco, Cagnulari Isola dei Nuraghi, 2015 adds to the effect. If you haven’t tried ricci before this is a great way in.
A perfectly seared fillet of sea bass arrives, lying next to a fluffy potato ‘cannelloni’ stuffed with a refreshing cucumber ricotta. It is light, delicate and elegantly presented.
Sogliola alla Mugnaia is an Italian version of a sole meunière; the Dover Sole Fillet is perfectly sautéed and full-flavoured and accompanied by a delicious spinach roll plump with juicy mussels. A fish dish of this type is easily robust enough to stand up to the long blackberry finish of our glass of Amarone Della Valpolicella.
A dessert entitled 5 Senses of Chocolate is just that! A rich chocolate mousse, a white chocolate dome and chocolate soil with basil leaves for a herbal counterpoint created a total choc fest!
And at the end of a meal what could be finer than a cigar, a chocolate cigar with coconut cream and mango sorbet.
If you are serious about Italian food and wine then please support L’Artigiano. The cooking is precise and elegant with a real understanding of flavour and texture. It is great to see a restaurant like this opening now. It’s a place for a serious foodie date with friends or a significant other.
343 Fulham Rd,
London SW10 9TW
07450 302 936