First impressions count and Il Ristorante at The Bulgari Hotel and Resort does not disappoint. Upon arrival you enter via a grand sweeping staircase to the restaurant where lounge music plays making you feel like you have entered a trendy nightclub in Milan. Surrounded by beautiful people, it is hard not to feel like one is on the set of an old 1940’s Italian movie, it becomes apparant one is in for a night in the top place in town for fine Italian food and rubbing shoulders with the Knightsbridge glitterati.
Il Ristorante at the Bulgari Hotel in London brings a fresh and authentic Italian dining experience to the prestigious Knightsbridge neighbourhood and evokes all the glamour of the Dolce Vita era. Sleek mahogany, beautiful fabrics and leather, the handcrafted staircase, exclusive furniture and Bulgari cutler, every detail exudes Italian style. The lavish ambience builds anticipation for the fragrant Italian cuisine, full of harmonies and contrasts, created by Head Chef Robbie Pepin.
We were greeted by the lovely Restaurant Manager Davide Durante who introduced us to the menu which is complemented by an impressive wine list: supreme Italian wines, other rare wines and gems, together with significant labels from France. We also met our waiter for the evening: Gianluca and organised for a drink to start the taste buds watering, we started off with everyone’s favourite, some Champagne: Champagne Lanson Gold label 2002.
Davide, the Restaurant Manager and our guide for that evening, suggested Piccoli Morsi which is a selction of meats and vegetables: Italian cold cuts, Sea bass carpaccio, Andolio olive oil and lemon, Caprese: mozzarella di bufala and tomatoes, Squid, courgettes, tomatoes and marjoram to start. We also added a Black Truffle Pizzetta to our starters – as you know we love truffles! The starter was a lovely idea as you tick off what you fancy on a list then hand it over to the waiter while you continue looking through the great choices for your mains on the menu.
The Truffle Pizzetta was light and delicate and had two different cheeses to add extra flavour. The Piccoli Morsi was a beautiful starter for the summer with the fresh smells of the fish and vegetables enticing you to eat and the dishes were all each individually beautifully presented with an array of Mediterranean colours.
After perusing the menu, we settled on our pasta and risotto dishes, I went for Risotto Milanese (risotto with saffron and bone marrow) which worked well with wine pairing: Trebbiano d’Abruzo, Marina Cvetic 2009, a very unique white wine with traits of banana, honey and a golden colour. This wine has a really special taste; it could be drunk alone or with strong flavoured dishes, such as my risotto. The dish was presented in a saucepan by Alessi which was a really nice touch. The smell of the dish was very pungant and the bone marrow gave a very meaty taste which matched the full bodied white wine very well. The colour of the dish was a golden yellow and looked good enough to eat…which it was!
My co-dinner on the night Charlotte went for Paccheri pasta, tender ox cheek, daube style sauce paired with Brunello di Montalcino, Banfi, 2007, a brownish-red wine, but not in a bricked way, violets and vanilla, black pepper and a mixture of red and black fruits with notes of chocolate, wild
mushroom, mulled blackberries, and strong ripe raspberries. Quite light-bodied, this is overall an excellent food wine and a perfect match for the Paccheri pasta. The dish was very dark in colour and had a spectacular taste – very meaty! The braised ox cheek was salty and warming; I would describe this dish more as a robust, winter pasta meal.
For Secondi / main course I went for Sauteed pigeon breast, pumpkin and wild mushrooms, salmis sauce paired with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Binomio” 2007. This wine has a deep dense intense ruby red colour, with a purple rim and obvious viscosity, strong nose with ripe black berry, cassis, wild strawberry and spices. Dry but with high alcohol, acidity and ripe tannins, pronounced fruit and great length, a perfect choice for the meaty flavours of the pigeon. The pigeon was cooked to perfection and the sauce was to die for! It worked really well with the pigeon and the pumpkin puree was very light and added an extra taste and texture to the meat flavours.
Charlotte opted for the Halibut braised with Franciacorta, seasonal vegetables and basil matched with Bianco secco, Quintarelli 2011, a stunning blonde wine, an artful blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin, a grape believed to be a clone of Tokay whose name translates to “flavor” in Veronese dialect. Debuting in 2004, Bianco Secco carries a bouquet of flowers, a brisk palate, and finishes with a touch of minerals and honey. Charming doesn’t even begin to describe it, so light and a perfect mix with the freshness and lightness of the Halibut. The fish was succulent and well presentedfwith seasonal vegetables and fruit, interesting flavours coursed through the dish, a great choice for the summer.
To finish our evening we were presented with a great dessert selection and it would have been rude to say “no!” I went for Dark Chocolate cream, toasted brioches, which considering the massive size of the dessert (it could easily have been shared) was light and very interesting to find coffee under the frozen mousse . Charlotte went for Baba al Limoncello which was very boozy! A very lemony, tart, zingy, tangy dish in which the addition of whipped cream was welcome to cut through the citrus and alcohol. However, the cake very moist and once again the freshness could be tasted in the dish. Our dishes were paired with a Moscato di Pantelleria, Solidea, 2007 & Passito di Pantelleria “sangue d’oro” C. Bouquet 2008 which worked well with our desserts and the final surprise from Il Ristorante – a Candied Lemon-basil sorbet, which was a very refreshing way to finish a divine meal, a lovely way to cleanse the pallete. This dessert is a choice by the Bulgari in-house personal trainer’s team and all the way through the menu items have a marking by them to show they are selections by Bodyism. After a coffee and a chat to the delightful chef Robbie Pepin it was time for us to leave, but the night would not be forgotten as were were treated so well by the attentive and unobtrusive staff
Il Ristorante has a real feel of the theatre to it, with beautiful architecture, the delivery of the dishes and the designs of the cutlery and the plates. The glasses by Leonardo are beautiful and the portion sizes from drink to food are incredible, the way your glass gets topped up is even an art form. The staff look like catwalk models in their stylish outfits and the attention to detail is superb where ever you look. Il Ristorante is the place where the beautiful people come, so if you want to be seen, be seen in the epicentre of Knightsbridge glamour that is Il Ristorante at the Bulgari.
Bulgari Hotel & Residences London
London, SW7 1DW