For nearly thirty years, Vicino Restaurant has been serving authentic Italian food on New King’s Road in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Inside it is decorated as if you were sitting in a perfectly curated Italian courtyard with colourful flowers, murals and Italian posters.
Marcello the assistant manager booms ‘Buongiorno’ and welcomes you in like a regular. Sometimes restaurant service can be as good, and if not better, than the food. In this case we find out both are exceptional.
The homemade breads and delicious Sweet Sicilia green olives are brought out while we were looking at the extensive food and drinks menu.
We chose a bottle of Caldora priced at £23.50 from Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, a dry white wine with flavours of stone fruits; loquat plums and nectarines.
Vicino has a set menu offering two or three courses. You can choose from their A La Carte menu which offers antipasti and salads, pasta and risotto, meat and fresh fish dishes. They also have a menu which includes a house special, monthly specials and superfood summer salad.
Marcello pointed out their signature house specialities, Spaghetti all Aragosta (whole fresh lobster, served with spaghetti served in tomato, garlic and chilli sauce) and Aragosta all Grigila (whole grilled fresh lobster, served with arrabiatta sauce and chips).
For my starter I chose Calamari e Zucchine Fritte, deep fried squid and courgette strips served with tartare sauce priced at £7.00. My guest chose Insalata di Granchio, fresh Cornish crab with cucumber, chilli, shallots served on toasted bread priced at £8.00.
Luckily we both had huge appetites as the portions are generous. The calamari was lightly fried and delicate with crunchy helpings of courgettes, which I dipped into the rich tartare sauce. The Cornish crab was delicious mixed with the cucumber. It was light and fresh lifted by a hint of chilli and shallots.
Next we both opted for Vicino’s signature dish, Spaghetti all Aragosta. The lobster is Canadian and bought fresh every day from Billingsgate market. The lobster is ‘meaty’ yet delicate in flavour and well-seasoned. The delicious spaghetti was cooked to perfection and had a beautiful depth of flavour that only a true Italian knows how to cook.
It’s surprising that we both had room for a pudding, but it seemed a crime not to try one. All the traditional Italian dolci were on offer, from profiteroles and crème caramel to sorbets, ice-creams and cheeses. We shared a tiramisu which included Savoiardi biscuits lightly soaked in a coffee punch, with mascarpone cheese and amaretto liqueur. It was rich and sumptuous. In true Italian style, guests will never go home hungry from Vicino.
Marco Moscoloni, the Head Chef, originates from Le Marche in Italy where he worked for six years. It was when he moved to London he built up his reputation for his authentic Italian cooking style working Caldesi, the renowned Mayfair Italian restaurant and Dolada and Convivo in Belgravia.
Vicino’s is a hidden gem when it comes to finding a great lunchtime venue in central London. It’s reasonable priced with the set menu priced at £9.50 for two courses and £12 for three courses. Evenings get very busy therefore it’s advisable to book. My advice is to head there at lunchtime for great value prices and enjoy daytime Italy.