London food blogger Tracy Knatt, from the fab blog It’s Not Easy Being Greedy, is also Food & Drinks Editor of Erisea Magazine. She recently went to the Marylebone restaurant Saporito, and loved it. Here’s what she had to say:
“Marylebone is well known for its fabulous boutiques, cafes and restaurants, especially along the famous High Street, But venture a few minutes further north and you’ll discover some Italian classics, which have a hint of Japanese influence thrown in for good measure, in Saporito. It used to be a café but was refurbished earlier in the year and is now a light and airy restaurant with a small terrace for al fresco eating.
Saporito serve a range of generously topped bruschetta using the famous sourdough Poilane bread as the base, and also have a large selection of traditional thin crust pizzas which you can also order to take away, should you be lucky enough to live nearby.
They also offer a regularly changing seasonal menu, which has some flavours you wouldn’t expect to find in an Italian restaurant: Max, the owner, explained to us that his Japanese girlfriend was the reason for the Japanese influence on some of the dishes.
We chose the tartars from the menu: my friend had silverside beef, which had been mixed with egg yolk, anchovies, capers, mustard and served with a creamy wasabi mayonnaise. I chose the Hamachi tartar – it was impossible not to choose after Boudy the waiter had raved about the quality of the fish, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was simply served with chives, lemon zest, South African salt crystals and a jug of soy sauce on the side, and the simple preparation meant that I could taste the pure fresh flavour of the raw fish. The salt was an unnecessary accompaniment for me, but it did look quite beautiful on the slate platter.
For the main courses we moved back to traditional Italian flavours with parmagiana, and lamb chops. My friend and I could not resist sharing the dishes as they were too good to miss out on. The lamb was exceptional: cutlets which had been coated in crunchy toasted hazelnuts and flambed in whisky. They were served with pretty purple potatoes which had been sautéed with thyme. Cooked medium, the lamb was juicy and full of flavour, and whilst we were served a large portion, if there had been more we wouldn’t have been able to resist eating it all.
The parmagiana was also quickly demolished by us: sliced aubergine which had been fried and layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Even the most carnivorous amongst us would certainly consider the parmagiana a satisfying dish.
As Max was keen for us to try Saporito pizzas, we found ourselves in the rather wonderful position of receiving a second main course each! Of course, we felt obliged to try the pizza in the interests of providing a thorough review of Saporito, and so tucked into our cappricciosa and Tuscan sausage with relish. They had light, chewy crusts with the right amount of tomato sauce, and the kitchen was generous with our chosen toppings.
I am slightly ashamed to say that we also managed to squeeze in a tirumisu between us. The tirumisu is made a la mode – once the order comes in, Boudy makes the espresso and sends it down to the kitchen for Alessandro, the Tuscan chef, to assemble the dessert.
We were relieved to discover that the Saporito tirumisu is made with whipped cream rather than heavy mascarpone, so is a relatively light option for pudding. The fresh coffee in the pudding is the perfect note on which to finish a lovely meal.
With excellent food, reasonable prices, a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and good, friendly service, we’ll definitely be heading back to Saporito for dinner … or breakfast and lunch, which they also serve. Although next time we’ll just stick to one main course each so that we can sample more of the puddings!”
Saporito; 14 Melcombe St; Marylebone, London NW1 6AH (Google Map)