"Romanian chain of trattorias hopes to repeat success in London"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Il Calcio in Mayfair is the first London outpost of a popular chain of Romanian trattorias. Their website proudly proclaims that “countless public figures but also common people enjoyed the specialties of the Italian cuisine”. Well, that’s good then.
The décor is stiff and old-fashioned (chandeliers, gold and red theme), much like the soundtrack of Italian power ballads (90s heartthrob Eros Ramazzotti is one choice) playing in the background. They’ve not yet been open a month but there are plenty of diners here on the Tuesday night we visit.
The menu is huge, as there are whole sections devoted to carpaccio, tartare and bruschetta, aside from pasta, meat and fish. The meal begins well, with a pleasant tuna tartare with capers and chopped avocado, and crostini topped with melted gorgonzola and tasty homemade sausage.
The green tagliolini with crab meat and garlic is slick with olive oil and has hints of spice, it’s fine, although the boyfriend wishes there was more of it. The “breaded” veal escalope with squid ink linguine would go down well with stoners, but for everyone else it’s just a poorly constructed dish. The meat has been fried in egg rather than breadcrumbs, and chunks of Parmesan (which are not shaved, as the menu states) have been plonked on top along with dollops of tomato puree. The garlicky linguine on the side seems like an afterthought.
There are nice touches, like the homemade olive breadsticks and sundried tomato bread, and a boozy-tasting panacotta goes down very well. A chocolate tiramisu with crunchy chocolate chips could work if it wasn’t drowning in a gallon of whipped cream.
Il Calcio are confident they’re going to repeat their success over here, as a second restaurant is set to open on Old Brompton Road in early December. But that eggy veal cost £19.50; this is poor value, regardless of whether you’re a public figure or one of the common people.
Leila reviewed Il Calcio on Mon 26 Nov 2012