Already a big deal in Milan, Camillo Benso has now arrived in London’s Mayfair with a sleek dining room serving high-end Italian. There’s a cocktail bar as you enter, where you can enjoy authentic Italian-style aperitivo in the form of drinks and small snacks, or an after-meal drink such as an amaro (the bittersweet Italian herbal liqueur), and we’re told there’ll also be regular live music.
The night we visited, Camillo Benso had only been open a couple of short weeks so we pretty much had the place to ourselves, but we can imagine it attracting a glitzy crowd once properly up and running. It’s next door to Bonhams Auction House, so you can imagine the clientele they are hoping to attract.
Despite the waitress insisting we order in the Italian way, starters, pasta course, secondi and dessert, we really did order too much for two people. We’d suggest sharing a ball of Burrata (all the authentic ingredients are imported directly from Italy), before moving onto a pasta course each. The cacio e pepper (simply cheese & pepper) was every bit as indulgent as you’d hope, adorned with a just a single basil leaf. The ragu with pappardelle had a lovely depth to it, both of which are made using durum wheat Pasta di Gragnano, considered to be among Italy’s finest.
We’re not suggesting you fill yourself up on the bread, BUT Camillo Benso’s is made using a recipe by Niko Romito, of Abruzzo’s first and only three Michelin star restaurant, Reale. So you might not be able to resist.
The star of the show for us was the epic whole Catalan lobster, served on a cheerful colourful platter. Super meaty, really fresh, it was some of the best lobster we’ve had in London. Here it’s topped with cherry tomatoes, red onion, sprigs of rosemary, carrots and celery, making it a very substantial main (which you’d hope, priced as it is at £32).
Feeling utterly defeated, dessert decisions were taken out of our hands and we shared a light but creamy vanilla panna cotta which had been topped with homemade chocolate sauce and strawberries, alongside a glass of ruby red Italian wine for the road. We get the impression this warm hospitality is par for the course.
So if your summer holiday feels like a distant memory, and you need a reminder of those long balmy Mediterranean nights, Camillo Benso will gladly take care of you.