Made it to Italy this year? No matter: you can experience the delights of Italian fine dining by simply taking the trip to Blenheim Street and the newly launched Giannino Mayfair. Unfortunately the Italian weather, scenery and architecture won’t be included with the experience but the food’s always been the Italian USP, right?
Leaving aside the food for a moment, the arrival of Giannino on these shores is quite the event in itself. The Milanese restaurant dates back more than 120 years, when a man named Giannino Bindi and his family moved north from Tuscany to open a small tavern. Initially catering to local coachmen, the tavern acquired a sizable reputation, and Giannino relocated to the city centre to better serve Milanese aristocracy.
Mayfair marks Giannino’s first-ever opening outside Italy; saying that, Milan and Mayfair are basically the same place so the move should be fairly seamless. Going by the soft launch, this will certainly be the case.
Our set menu was fantastic, starting with oysters in three separate dressings and getting better from there. This is seriously high-quality food, from pasta that makes you want to lick the sauce off the plate (don’t: not that kind of place) to a fillet of beef that tastes as though it was cut from some kind of bovine royalty; we were eating the queen of the cows.
Executive Chef Salvatore Suzzi is not playing around, and since the soft launch, the menu has expanded hugely: dishes such as Madras curried native lobster and veal ossobuco with gremolata should have any gourmand rushing down to Blenheim Street post haste. Raised in Naples, and a veteran of the Milanese mothership, Suzzi will doubtless relish his new London playground.
The restaurant looks the part: the gorgeous interior has all the effortless sophistication of David Niven sipping a whisky in a library at Buckingham Palace. (I say ‘effortless’: restaurateur Antonio Fantini certainly put the work in.) You feel like you’re dining on the Orient Express rather than five minutes’ walk from Oxford Circus. No need to turn up fully suited and booted but nor will you want to feel underdressed.
Like all really classy venues, Giannino Mayfair is a great spot to people watch: the couple on the adjacent table looked like they’d walked out of a Disney film, while the swarthy gentleman behind us appeared to be a movie star, or perhaps some form of royalty: everyone from the manager to the chef to fellow patrons flocked to his table to pay homage. Very on brand, whoever he was.
Will Giannino Mayfair last 120 years in London? Based on its pedigree, you wouldn't bet against it.
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10 Blenheim St, W1S 1LH; Giannino Mayfair