Leanne Kelsall reviews Vicino restaurant in Fulham, where traditional Tuscan cooking takes centre stage.
With authentic, home-cooked Italian cuisine and a head chef with a string of 5-star restaurants under his belt, Vicino has plenty of reasons to visit. But if that hasn’t persuaded you to stop by, perhaps the fact that Hugh Grant, Pierce Brosnan and Sienna Miller are among its regulars, will.
The Fulham-based restaurant has been serving classic Tuscan dishes since it opened in 1987. Since then, the style of cooking has remained the same, with head chef Marco Moscoloni preferring the menu stay true Italian so as not to be distracted by London’s foodie trends.
The same goes for the décor. Vicino is inspired by a trattoria – the kind you’d find in the valleys of Tuscany, where the ambience is homely, the food hearty and the wine served by the decanter.
Potted hydrangea and hanging garlic welcome guests into a charming oasis where they can while an evening with loved ones over an admirable selection of typical Italian food and wine.
Soft, yellow tones, country-style furnishings and vintage posters create a welcoming and unpretentious atmosphere.
You’re welcomed with open arms at Vicino. The service is brilliant. Unreservedly friendly staff are on hand whenever you need them, as is the restaurant manager, happily rolling up his sleeves when he’s needed.
The dishes are more rustic than refined but that’s the beauty of Vicino. The portions are generous and the flavours are exquisite.
Billingsgate lobster is their specialty – so I tried the Spaghetti all’Aragosta (£21.50). The lobster was top quality, as expected, and the pasta sauce had the perfect balance of punchy chili and sweet tomato.
My guests’ lasagna (£11.50) had been lovingly slow-cooked with rich, smoky flavours and a decadent melted cheese topping.
Desserts were as traditional as they get. A fluffy tiramisu with custard cream provided a lovely, light finish to a carb-heavy meal. This was followed by a damn good cappuccino – one of the best I’ve had in a while.
The wine selection includes well-known Italian labels and super Tuscans. There’s also a selection of aperitifs and digestifs.
Vicino is a little different to the contemporary restaurants I usually dine at. But there’s no denying that this place feels proper Italian. The food is faff-free and a real celebration of Tuscan cooking. If you’re in the area for a no-frills belly filling that delivers big on flavour, I couldn’t recommend anywhere more suited.