Sartoria restaurant review

Sartoria review

by Eliot Collins 28 January 2016

Eliot Collins dines at the newly refurbished Sartoria in Savile Row and gets to taste Francesco Mazzei's southern Italian cuisine.

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Eliot worked as a chef partnership manager at Great British Chefs.

Eliot’s first food memory dates back to a Cambozola cheese addiction at the age of two. Growing up with a food technologist father and dairy technologist mother, it was a pretty clear path into the world of gastronomy. Eight years in the belly of kitchens in Sydney and San Francisco followed, and he juggled his role as chef partnership manager at Great British Chefs with creating tasty delights in his tiny Hackney kitchen!

My last restaurant meal of 2015 was truly special – something I guessed would be the case even before I got to Savile Row. Sartoria closed for a very elegant and sexy refurb earlier in the year and is the new home of southern Italian chef and maestro Francesco Mazzei, who is a huge fan of his home country and an even bigger fan of his birthplace, Calabria.

The name of the restaurant and its location suggests that the customers are adorned in the finest thread and tightly woven pocket squares. There is this and more, but beyond the people watching is a space that is warm, stylish and comfortable. I sat at the bar waiting for my guest and had a delicious Bloody Mary while admiring the deli-style counter and salumi treasure chest that was perched in an immaculate glass case.

A bowl of olives, bread and several mouthfuls of bresaola later and I was shown to my table and ready to indulge. Despite Francesco’s strong ties to southern Italy he always ensures the entire country is celebrated. This was evident as I lapped up a seafood broth with fregola (a Sardinian pasta similar to giant cous cous), which was big in flavour and perfectly seasoned. Think of a rich seafood and tomato broth with the best of Britain's coastline in a bowl.

A bottle of Sicilian white served with a well matched story from the sommelier meant we were ready to continue with a crustacean-rich dish. A classic from Francesco’s pasta section is the lobster tagliatelle which is sweet, salty and rich, making it the perfect sauce to get caught in your moustache (if you have one).

If you aren’t the facial hair type, then the homemade bread is the perfect sponge to scrape up the scarpetta (one of my favourite Italian words). The wordmeans ‘make the little shoe’ and refers to the chunks of bread used to soak up the remaining sauce on the plate. A savvy waste not want not attitude!

How do you jazz up lasagne? There are a few ways, but using humble ingredients Francesco has created a signature, southern-influenced version called Pastachina. Inspired by the woman that raised him, this is lasagne at the next level and requires an epic description – click here to see the recipe.

We were toying with the idea of dessert, but it just showed up before we could make a decision. The classic tiramisu was faultless, but I do have a particular affection for the bitter layer of cocoa in this delicious dish. With coffee and grappa... enough said!

Hazelnut gelato was perfectly churned, light, fluffy, sweet and on the verge of being almost too soft. It’s no surprise; Francesco was thrown into the world of food in his uncle’s gelato shop as a young boy and has peeled a few hazelnuts in his time.

A great Italian meal is all about relaxing, taking your time and enjoying yourself. But if you don’t have time for a leisurely lunch, there’s always the option of sitting at the bar and stuffing yourself with salumi, antipasti, Italian pastries and cake.

I’m looking forward to returning in summer when southern Italian produce will be the superhero on the menu. Grazier Meraviglioso Francesco!