Deeply glamorous Cecconi’s, in a beautiful building located just behind The Royal Academy, is named after its first owner Enzo Cecconi who opened the restaurant in 1978. Cecconi, formerly the youngest ever manager of Venice’s legendary Cipriani Hotel truly transformed London’s understanding of Italian cuisine. He first brought fresh pasta, beef carpaccio, tiramisu and Bellinis to the capital. Now part of The Soho House group, with counterparts from West Hollywood to Istanbul, Cecconi’s London flagship is designed by Ilse Crawford with wraparound windows, a gleaming mahogany and marble bar, distinctive emerald green leather seating and black and white marble striped floor. Rare for central London, it has pavement tables too. It exudes Italian sophistication and la dolce vita with white-jacketed staff serving food all day – everything from egg white omelette to lobster spaghetti.
Cecconi’s is the breakfast haunt sine qua non for private bankers, a lunch favourite for creatives and artists and, come cichetti hour, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kate Moss and Lindsay Lohan are among the high profile names who have been spotted sipping an aperitivo and grazing on Venetian style tapas, including delectably rich and creamy chicken liver crostini. The menu majors on simple yet sophisticated dishes from vitello tonnato to a tempting choice of tartares and beef tagliata with rocket and parmesan. The pasta dishes are exceptionally good. Crab ravioli is silky textured and laced with basil. Salads are popular, especially chicken with saffron and lemon. The ultra-moreish zucchini fritti are a must. Cecconi’s signature vanilla cheesecake served with luscious red fruit compote has a filling so rich it is virtually criminal. It may not be a steal, yet Cecconi’s is the place to experience rare white Alba truffle risotto during its brief season. It’s truly a life-affirming experience.