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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Quattro Passi - For the Finest of Italian Produce and Cooking in London's Mayfair

Name: Quattro Passi 

Where: 34 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NG, www.quattropassi.co.uk

Cost: Antipasti cost from £12 to £40, starters range from £12 to £30, main courses from £29 to £40 with side dishes at £4-5. There is a tasting menu priced at £80 for 7 courses. There is also a 2-course business lunch menu, Monday to Friday, for £25 per person, and 3 courses for £35. The restaurant is also offering a New Year’s Eve 7-course tasting menu for £222 including a glass of champagne on arrival.

About: Quattro Passi is a new restaurant in Dover Street, opposite The Ritz, which aim to bring the fresh flavours of Campania in Southern Italy, to London.

Chef/Patron Antonio Mellino has earned two Michelin stars at his landmark restaurant in Massa Loubrense in Campania, a region which many chefs say grows the finest lemons in Italy. He has moved his family to London with the stated aim of introducing real Italian fine dining.

Mellino, his sons Raffaele and Fabrizio and a top front of house and kitchen team, bring the skills perfected at his Amalfi coast restaurant, along with the light and simple pasta and seafood dishes and fabulous grills on which his reputation has been built.

The menu is impressive (with prices to match) featuring some of the finest produce Campania and other Italian regions have to offer. On our visit, mains included fish dishes like Amalfi lemon and basil infused monkfish, caramelised pears and chestnuts, homemade pasta with white truffles of Alba, or duck glazed in carob honey with Earl Grey creme caramel. 

What We Ate: We opted for the 7-course tasting menu priced at £80 per head. We started with an excellent platter of burrata cheese served with sweet pomodorino tomatoes and rocket leaves (representing the three colours of the national flag) doused in a treacly balsamic vinegar. The burrata was stunningly creamy and as good as the ones I enjoyed on my last trip to Campania.

Of note was also Quattro Passi’s generous bread “basket” – freshly baked in the restaurant, it featured a number of Italian classics including grissini, focaccia and friselle.

To follow, we had a magnificent linguine pasta course with courgettes and Parmesan cheese sauce.

Having just returned from a visit to the white truffle international fair and auction in Alba, I have come to appreciate these lovely little funghi. At Quattro Passi, we were served tagliolini pasta with generous shavings of white truffles – I loved the ingenious simplicity of this dish, the best way to appreciate the wonderful aroma and flavour of this Piemontese delicacy.

The fish course was mint-crusted turbot with a millefeuille of courgette and red turnips. Although the turbot was well made, the whole assembly lacked punch and focus in my opinion, with a rather bland courgette dish.

The main course was Fassone beef tagliata (fassone is a Piemontese breed of cattle highly regarded for the flavour of its meat), served with spicy broccoli, potato millefeuille and blackcurrant sauce. The beef was served medium rare, deliciously tender and indeed with a great depth of flavour. I was a little disappointed by the broccoli though, which despite being well flavoured, was a tad too soft for my taste.

For dessert we had the quintessential Italian dessert - Tiramisu with coffee ice cream and chocolate. With a milimetre-thin layer of cake, then microns-thin bitter chocolate, interspersed with dots of airily light mascarpone, this was a deliciously light and refined version of an often stodgy classic. I loved it.

What We Drank: Sommelier Diego served us a matched flight of wines. We kicked off with a glass of Quattro Passi's own label Champagne, from Epernay.

With our first course of burrata, we had a glass of Greco di Tufo, Vinosia 2013 from Campania, with fresh acidity, minerality and stone fruit flavours. 

Next came a glass of Ca' del Bosco 2010 from Curtefranca. With exhilarating minerality and steely fruit, this was a great example of one of Italy's best wines - a blend of Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay, from a top producer.

With the fish, we had a Sauvignon Blanc from Vigna Maso Tratta, La Vis 2013, from Trentino. With gooseberry and  nettle notes quite prominent, this nevertheless had a depth of flavour to make it a good match for the turbot. 

With the main course came a Chianti Classico 2011, from Peppoli, Antinori. Again from one of Italy's top producers, this was oak aged, with a heady nose of great complexity - sweet red cherries, raisins, vanilla and cedar among others, and tremendous length.   

For dessert, we had a passito wine, Roce Roce from Vinosia, 2010 made from Fiano d'Avalino grape. Named in Neapolitan dialect, it means 'sweet sweet'. Golden in colour, it is light in style with apricot aromas, and a long satisfying finish.

Likes: There is some superb quality Italian produce here, both on the table and in respect of wines. Such produce never comes cheap, and having spent time with some of Italy's finest food regions over the last few years, I think this restaurant really does serve some of the best produce of Italy. A perfect meal here would start with the burrata, followed by the pasta with white truffles, the fassone beef and ending with the wonderful tiramisu. The 7-course tasting menu at £80 is good value as is the £35 set business lunch which I am still to try.

Dislikes: Some have criticised the noise level at this restaurant, personally I could not see the issue. A few more affordable/accessible options on the a la carte menu would be welcome.

Verdict: Superb Italian produce very expertly cooked, for Italian fine-dining Quattro Passi is as good as it gets. Highly recommended.

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