This famous Hammersmith Italian is almost as famous for sporning Jamie Oliver through its ranks as anything else. When it was launched, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers about 20 years ago it was truly ground breaking - breaking the mould of the singing Italian waiter and corner-mounted bunches of plastic grapes. As lovers of the Italian peninsula know, cooking styles change by village/town/region to a great extent. Here you'll find a miss-mash (in the nicest sense) of some of the best dishes - sometimes with a modern twist.
A char-grill and the splendid wood-fired oven produce the heart of many dishes. Food follows the seasons strictly, as it should, and actually changes a little at each service - but expect to see the likes of 'Char-grilled Squid, with Red Chilis and Rocket'; 'Antipasti of Crab with Bruschetta' and delicious charcuterie among the starters.
Perhaps followed by Monkfish, and many other types of fish (in various guises); 'Osso Buco with Saffron Risotto'; 'Lamb with Fennel and Salsa Verde' or a succulent T-Bone Steak among the mains - the menu changes a little at each service - depending on the market.
Desserts are simple - such as 'Lemon Tart' or 'Pannacotta with Grappa and Pomegranate' - but all perfectly cooked. To sum it all up, it's fresh, honest food, thoughtfully-treated but supplied at a high price. So forget about the café branding - prices here are at least firm - main courses being around
- Food Style: Italian
- Lunch: all week, 12.30-15.00 (Sun 12.00-15.30); set L £25 (2 courses), £39 (3 courses); mains about £32 to £40
- Dinner: Mon-Sat, 19.00-21.30; Set D from £50, mains about £32 to £40
- Seats: 105, plus 70 outside
- Wine: A wine list kicking off at about £20, quite expectantly based on Italy, offers good value for a restaurant of this quality, and a good selection by the glass
- Children's portions: Yes
- Wheelchair access: Yes (including lavatory)
- Nearest station: HammersmithUnderground or Barons Court (but both 10 minutes walk)
- Directions: See the map on this page. On the south side of Rainville Road at its junction with Bowfell Road
- Parking: D and weekends only
- Closed: Sun D, Christmas and Bank Holidays
- Air conditioned
- Outside eating