A reality check told me I was actually in Pescatori in the middle of Fitzrovia. But with the rough white-washed walls combined with pebbled panels and Italian waiters, I certainly got away with pretending I was on the Amalfi Coast – albeit for a couple of hours.
We were greeted warmly by the receptionist in the more moodily-lit modern side of the restaurant before being seated in one of the restaurant’s brightly coloured booths. The flashes of orange and blue leather clashed pleasantly with the bare wooden floorboards and pristine white linen tables. Yet they coordinated nicely with the orange and blue chairs at the restaurant front outside. The Mediterranean vibe is so cleverly presented, you can just imagine yourself taking a sip of chilled wine, admiring the vista of a sparkling aquamarine blue sea.
Sadly, this wasn’t quite possible. We’d have had to make do with the hustle and bustle of Charlotte Street if we’d dined Al Fresco. But to make sure we got a real feel for the Pescatori atmosphere, we enjoyed a glass of Prosecco with some wonderfully fresh green olives, served on ice, and perused the menu from a brightly-lit indoor booth.
We were here to check out Pescatori’s afternoon dining menu – an a la carte selection of Italian-inspired seasonal food, available throughout the summer months. Pescatori claims to only source its fish from the most sustainable fisheries. The afternoon a la carte is not as extensive as the very tempting evening menu, which lists all sorts of ‘crostacei’, from langoustines to razor clams and a Frutti di mare platter, not to mention the likes of yellow fin tuna steak, monkfish tail and sole fillets. But return to the afternoon offer and you’ll see how they’ve cleverly picked out what make perfect pre-theatre bites or simply an informal late lunch with your best Belles.
We went for the poached new season asparagus with Parma ham and Piemonte dolcelatte cheese, and the Pescatori oysters to start with. And they didn’t disappoint. The trio of rock oysters were all different sizes and their freshness glistened on a bed of ice. With a simple squeeze of lemon they tasted salty, cool and not too chewy. The asparagus was perfectly cooked and the Parma ham was pleasantly salty. The cheese was gooey and indulgent. A perfect start.
Both my guest and I went for the Lobster burger. New to the lobster burger phenomenon, we’d been talking about it for days before. We decided we’d have to return another time to try out the monkfish and scallop risotto or non-fish alternative, new season lamb cutlets.
The burgers came novelly-presented on a wooden chopping board with fries served in a brown paper bag. The burgers were crumbly and pleasantly fishy and went perfectly with a simple gherkin garnish and creamy tomato hollandaise accompaniment. The bun was a light and deliciously crispy brioche. A simple yet an inspiring take on fast food.
I enjoyed a wonderfully aromatic and citrusy glass of La segreta bianco planeta (Sicilly) and my guest enjoyed a glass of soft Malbec Alamos Medoza (Argentina).
For dessert, we declined the tempting selection of gelati or sorbetti for a wonderfully creamy buttermilk Panna Cotta with raspberry sauce. We also tried their Cream of Tiramisu. I was sad to not have a soggy, coffee-infused spongy layer to dig my spoon into and it didn’t have the liqueur kick I so love about my favourite Italian dessert, but, this cream of Tiramisu was pleasantly fluffy and not over-poweringly sweet. In its wafer container, it was a treat for the eyes.
As we contemplated our bright and relaxed surroundings, we decided that if you can’t get on the next flight to Naples, this is the next best thing.
Pescatori serves good quality fresh fish and greets you with sunny surroundings. If that’s doesn’t give you the holiday feel I don’t know what will. I’ll definitely be returning for my Mediterranean fix during the chilly winter months.
Three courses from the afternoon dining menu costs £23. Available from midday until 6.45pm every day.
Pescatori, 57 Charlotte Street, London W1T 4PD, 0207 580 3289
By Lucy McGuire