Published on November 1st, 2013 | by thehungrymanc0
San Carlo Bottega at Selfridges
Bottega – the studio of an Italian artist where others come to learn.
An ambitious boast perhaps, but certainly given the successes of the other 2 Distefano family run restaurants on King Street West, namely San Carlo and Cicchetti, it seems this particular chain is on a mission to educate us beyond the pastas and pizzas with which we’re all pretty familiar.
Now, no doubt, there will be cries of “yet another Italian Restaurant?” But given that the restaurant wasn’t officially open when they held this preview lunch, the place was pretty much at capacity. So it seems there is still an appetite for quality Italian cooking. With the new offering, San Carlo have also taken influences from further afield – with some nods to Southern France on the menu.
Occupying the former Aubaine site on the second floor within Selfridges at Exchange square the restaurant offers views of the Cathedral and the Corn Exchange. I can imagine it being a great spot to sit of an evening looking out across the square; however, imaginings are all there can be at the moment as sadly the restaurant has to close at the same time as the store which is currently 8pm.
If you’re already familiar with the Cicchetti (see here) offering then expect more of the same; small sharing plates, to be dined on as you wish. Order a couple for a lighter meal or just keep ordering and feast. As with the other 2 restaurants in the city there is a commitment to only use the highest quality seasonal ingredients.
Of the dishes I tried the venison meatballs and the oxtail ragu with wet polenta were easily my personal favourites but there was little to complain about with any of the dishes.
I had to scarper before the desserts were served but I hear that the Rum Baba is a treat.
In a couple of weeks San Carlo are also due to open a sweettoothed dream in the basement too. Farmacia del Dolci will be serving up ice cream pastries and cakes for those after that sugar hit.
Now, whether you’re a fan of the San Carlo offering or not, it cannot be denied that the food is great, the interiors look slick and personally I have never had a complaint about the service.
Are they the masters of their craft? Could others learn from them? Well that is certainly not for me to judge. But as an accessible offering of fantastic Italian food they seem to be getting it right.