Covent Garden ha always been a bit of a tourist trap, with restaurants to match. I avoided it for years but its turned a corner lately with restaurants like Opera Tavern, Hawksmoor and Mishkins and now, Cicchetti. Owned by the San Carlo Group, with the help of Italian chef Aldo Zilli, Cicchetti opened its second London restaurant on Wellington Street in October, with an entrance on Catherine Street also.
This is an old school Italian restaurant with waiters in white jackets bustling back and forth, laden with plates of delicious looking food. Although the restaurant was full when I walked in the one thing I did notice was marble. There is a lot of marble!
We were made instantly welcome by the various Italian waiters that greeted us from the door to our table. Once my friends and I sat down, our waiter introduced himself, then rather proudly produced a glass cloche, encasing a bulbous black truffle. It turned out that this was going to be the theme of our evening.
Cichetti’s menu is rather huge and its very hard to pick what to order as I could easily work my way through everything. Luckily, my best friend Paul and I love the same foods so at least I knew we could order a good number of different dishes to try.
We started with the buratta with shaved truffle and parma ham.
The fresh and slightly sour, soft buratta melted in my mouth and with the saltiness of the parma ham and the earthiness of the truffles, it was heaven.
Heath’s tuna tartare arrived next. Prepared at our table, it tasted unbelievably fresh and zingy. It is probably the best I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately, as Heath was the only non-meat eater at the table, we couldn’t really dig in, we had to give him something of his own!
Next to arrive on our table were these cheese and truffle croquettes. A fine, crispy coating envelopes a soft, cheesy filling and then the truffle aroma hits your nose and your taste buds. Wow, these are good.
Lilly saw a plate of fried courgettes going past to another table so we ordered a portion. They were really tasty but it was a large portion and by the end of it, I felt quite greasy.
We weren’t sure what to order next but our waiter enthusiastically recommended the Truffle and Pecorino Ravioli.
WOW! This was incredible. Generously sized ravioli topped with a creamy sauce, truffle oil and a few shavings of black truffle. You could smell it before it arrived and as soon as the dish landed on the table, four forks immediately descended into the creamy softness. Then silence, as we closed our eyes and enjoyed the moment. It was like eating fluffy light clouds of truffle. It was sensational. Before we finished, we had ordered another portion.
Before the next portion of the truffle ravioli turned up, our Gorgonzola gnocchi turned up…in a parmesan basket!
This was also fantastic. Soft, pillowy gnocchi in a creamy, salty Gorgonzola sauce and a crispy parmesan basket, it really was a wonderful dish, and if we hadn’t had the truffle ravioli just before it, I would have thought it was the dish of the night.
Just when we thought we’d eaten everything we’d ordered, the wild mushroom and truffle bruschetta turned up. We’d forgotten we’d ordered it and to be honest, we were pretty full by that point.
It was very nice, and I’m sure it would have tasted great had it arrived at the start of the night, but we’d had so many fantastic dishes by that point that it remains rather unremarkable in my memory. In truth, the ravioli and the gnocchi stood out so much that everything else paled in comparison.
Of course, we still had a tiny space for dessert but couldn’t decide what to order so we got the selection plate.
Between the four of us we managed to polish off the tiramisu, pistachio cake, chocolate cake and mille‑feuille and a lemon sorbet. The ones that stood out for me personally were the tiramisu and the mille-feuille.
By the end of the night, the four of us were leaning back in our chairs, cradling our full tummies, feeling content and happy. With food like this coupled with attentive, friendly and chatty staff, I think Cicchetti will do very well. Its been a few weeks since that meal and yet I am still thinking (and talking) about the truffle ravioli. Its not as cool as Polpo or Polpetto, but it does Italian food well. I will definitely be returning.
Cicchetti, 30 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7BD
Mon – FrI: 8.00am-11.00pm, Sat: 9.00am-11.00pm, Sun: – 9.00am-10.00pm