Review: Sale e Pepe

Review: Sale e Pepe

The grand reopening of long-time favourite

The long-lasting Knightsbridge Italian dining favourite, Sale e Pepe, has just reopened following an extensive renovation. The restaurant, which has been open since 1975, turns 50 this year, and the renovation took place to mark the celebrations.

The restaurant has a long and luxurious history, having hosted various celebrities, from Sir Roger Moore to Rod Stewart and Priscilla Presley. Its new look, brainstormed by Hamilford Design, draws inspiration from the classic townhouses of Milan, with atmospheric dark blue walls, intricate wallpaper and bronze mirrors and details. It all lends a certain intimacy to the setting, with round tables placed close together and midnight-blue draperies, oil candles burning at each placement. There is a certain hushed reverence to the restaurant.

The menu continues to offer many of Sale e Pepe’s classics, from elegant pasta dishes like Linguine Vongole e Bottarga to cultural dishes such as veal Milanese, as well as introducing new ‘familigia’ style dishes and a full ‘Crudo’ section with a range of tartares and carpaccios.

There is also a selection of expertly-made cocktails. I was eager to try the Turin cup, but it was unfortunately unavailable on the evening. Instead I opted for a peach Bellini, a simple but nonetheless sweet and pleasing drink to start off the night.

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Our course of antipasti arrived swiftly: a wondrously flavoured ‘melanzane alla parmigiana’ – baked aubergine with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and aged parmesan. Delightful and baked to perfection – and elevated by the round of salted focaccia and crispy Italian flatbread we were served, which was used liberally to scoop up leftover tomato.

Next came a mouth-watering tray of grilled langoustines, drizzled with herbs and olive oil with a lemon on the side. While always a little undignified to eat, this shrimp was truly worth it, the meat tender and juicy, flavoured excellently.

Now it was time for the main course. I had opted for the risotto with roasted pumpkin and spinach, which was divine. Occasionally I find risottos can prove too thick and stodgy, but this one maintained a lightness that allowed the flavours to shine through without relying on the cheese and butter to do the heavy lifting. My friend chose the tagliatelle with veal ragu, which she loved. On the side we thoroughly enjoyed a bowl of ‘patate arrosto’ – heavenly roasted potatoes seasoned with rosemary and garlic – and sautéed broccolini with roasted garlic and red chilli.

We finished with tiramisu, because of course we did. Wondrously rich with a heavenly balance of coffee and cream.

It’s clear that Sale e Pepe still knows how to deliver excellent and expert Italian dining. The renovation has lent a quiet intimacy to their dining experience, really making you feel as if you are experiencing something special. Definitely recommended.