Just a few months ago, we reviewed Brera – a trendy and upmarket new venture, just off Oxford Street, backed by one of London’s longest-established Italian catering dynasties (the Spaghetti House people). Inauspiciously, news of its unexpected closure reached us the very day we visited Caricatura, which could be described in precisely similar terms. This time, however, the caterers concerned are Dino’s, who’ve run Italian diners in SW London since 1949.
Being truer to the basic style characterised by the Spaghetti Houses and Dino’s of the world, this place may have more luck. ‘Basic’ may be the wrong word given that its PR centres on caviar (and similar) pizzas at up to £150 a pop. But most options here don’t, in fact, cost much more than at Ask! And the quality is better. Service is smart, too, if a bit slow, and the setting – judged by posh diner standards – is also pretty stylish. (That statement is not, by the way, a sideswipe at the concept of posh diners – you could say it’s a market sector, dominated as it is by chains, that’s curiously under-served.)
This turns out to be a useful destination, then, so we hope it survives. From its nature, and despite the potential to spend large amounts, it’s probably not a place for a big night out. But for lunch or pre-theatre – when a plate of antipasti alone would quite possibly be substantial enough – it’s well worth bearing in mind. Or go, continental-style, for a couple of light snacks (piadine) before moving on elsewhere. On a warm evening after a couple of glasses of vino, you might just find yourself wafted from Mayfair to Milano.