Simon Wittenberg ventures to South West London to sample the exquisite cuisine of Stecca, the independently-owned Italian restaurant.
Stecca opened in June 2017 and takes the name of the owner and Head Chef, Stefano Stecca. Originally from Rimini in Italy’s Emilia Romagna, Mr Stecca moved to London in 1999 and worked at prestigious establishments such as Zafferano (as a sous chef), Rosmarino, Brunello (at The Baglioni hotel) and Toto’s in Knightsbridge, before launching his own eatery which is nestled away on Chelsea’s Hollywood Road.
The main restaurant accommodates around 40 covers at a time, and there is a garden terrace outside which can seat another 25 guests when the weather is kinder. The eatery has a simple and contemporary décor made up of wooden floors, dark blue and black leather seating, and there is a nice informal and relaxed vibe about it. Our host explained that this establishment is popular with the local Italian community which makes up Mr Stecca’s loyal fan base.
The menu at Stecca is not overbearing, and dishes are produced using the freshest seasonal and regional Italian ingredients. There is also an Italian and French-focused wine list featuring small vineyard and top vintage varieties. Any specific dietary requirements are taken into account when ordering, and as everything is made from scratch, these can easily be accommodated.
Starters come in the form of salads or antipasti such as aubergine parmigiana and beef carpaccio, and you can also have a pasta dish (which comes with a £4 supplement if you have one as a main). I enjoyed the very large portion of sumptuously smooth Burrata cheese (£11) which sat on a bed of delicious crushed avocado, and was garnished with sliced Sicilian tomatoes. It was superb, and so was the basket of freshly cooked bread which came with it, which was named “Pane Carasau” (a traditional flatbread from Sardinia), “Pane di Altamura” (which originates from the South East of Italy) and slices of focaccia-like tomato pizza.
My other half tucked into a very sizeable black truffle risotto (£19) which was cooked al dente, and was topped with thick slices of truffle which was an exceptional explosion of flavour. It all disappeared in a relatively short space of time, and Stecca had set the bar high on both counts for the rest of the evening.
With pasta being a speciality at Stecca, I decided to try the “Mezzelune” (translating as “half-moon”), which arrived with a creamy tomato sauce and a soft ricotta cheese centre that just oozed out as you cut into it. Costing £17, it was a dish that really had a genuine Italian taste to it and reminded me of my visits to the country. My guest went for the tender fillet of beef with spinach, tomatoes and a red wine sauce (£29), and the kitchen at Stecca had done themselves proud. It was excellent.
There are eight desserts on offer such as “Affogato” (£6.50) which combines an espresso shot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a tiramisu-like mascarpone recipe, plus the savoury option of three Italian cheeses. It was a tough choice, but the Crema Mascarpone (£6.50) won, and it didn’t disappoint. It was a generous portion and quite rich, but I couldn’t finish it, not because there was the unwillingness to do so. My dining partner closed off her meal with a flavoursome lemon sorbet and a lemon and mint tea to refresh the palate.
If you want to venture off the beaten track in Chelsea away from the crowds, and enjoy genuine Italian food in a cosy and relaxed setting, coupled with faultless service, then Stecca is the place to head for.
Stecca – Where and How?
Stecca is located at 14 Hollywood Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 9HY, United Kingdom. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.stecca.co.uk.