WLC Eats: Enoteca Rosso

WLC’s Eleanor Field heads to Enoteca Rosso in Kensington for carne cruda, a sublime Italian wine list and a playful tiramisu.

The concept: An Italian restaurant located in a former bank building on Kensington High Street, Enoteca Rosso was founded in 2017 by chef Flavio Militello who formerly headed the kitchen at Michelin-starred Felix Lo Basso in Milan. Gaining a reputation for its impressive Italian wine list curated by the restaurant’s wine buyer Claudio Gelmini, the selection features over 250 bottles personally sourced from small independent producers in Italy to pair with the kitchen’s freshly made pasta, in-house charcuterie, artisanal cheese and seasonal dishes. With a definite focus on Piedmont, much of the menu involves ingredients that have either been imported from the region or made in house.

The décor: The spacious restaurant features high coffered ceilings and large windows, sections of mosaic flooring and the original columns giving a grand appearance to the interior while rustic wooden tables echo the trattorias of Italy.  An ample bar extends the length of one wall, behind which is a semi-private dining area, while an extensive latticed wall of wine reaching to the ceiling is set above banquette seating.

The food: Each dish is available in a choice of three sizes – ‘small to taste, medium to indulge and large to share’ – with pasta dishes starting at £7 and main courses at £12. Our waiter highlights the elements of each course that are made in house and we are delighted to discover that this includes most of them.

To kickoff is a plum-coloured carne cruda featuring finely diced beef from Piedmont topped with ’nduja infused mayonnaise and fresh basil, a crunchy polenta base offering a befitting contrast. Next came yellow-fin tuna tartare with lemon zest and zingy green apple perched upon home-made corn crackers, delicious paired with a Trento DOC Alitinum Metodo Classico Riserva. Made using the traditional Champagne method, it proves a refreshing and luxurious alternative to Prosecco.

With a focus on in-house curing, the Negroamaro board offers an ample selection of finely sliced fish including salmon cured with house gin, moreish slivers of swordfish and tuna bresaola, all of which pair perfectly with a rich white wine from Campania, Tenuta Scuotto Oi Ni. A citron vineagarette made with olive oil from Sicily is a delightful palette cleanser paired with a variety of crackers, all made in house.

Catering for vegetarian and vegan guests, a perfectly al dente pasta made from beetroot and topped with a sauce of peas, beans and creamed cauliflower is complemented perfectly by an oaked crimson Nebbiolo, Ca’Fracia Valgella Valtellina Superiore 2002; while spinach gnocchi, swathed in butter and cheese from Piedmont with a scattering of crumbled walnuts, is decadent and well-seasoned.

Mains featured a sliced berry-pink ribeye steak with tender radicchio and miniature roast potatoes, pairing perfectly with a Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino 2011.

The finale is a fun deconstructed tiramisu consisting of a bowl of fresh espresso alongside a bowl of cocoa dusted mascarpone cream with shortbread-style melt-in-the-mouth biscuits for dipping. This pairs perfectly with a glass of Marsala – the wine usually used in this traditional Italian dessert.

Signature dishes: Sliced duck with honey and balsamic reduction served on a Fibonacci of vibrant and expertly creamed sweet potato mash and crisp endive is delicious as well as pleasing on the eye, arriving Miróesque on a slate grey dish. A nest of chimaera fettuccine with lamb ragout and fresh thyme is perfectly seasoned and particularly delectable paired with a Pietro Rinaldi San Cristoforo Barbaresco Alba DOCG 2013.

The drinks: The name Enoteca Rossa, which translates directly as ‘wine repository,’ reflects this restaurant’s infatuation with wine. Overseeing the wine list, Claudio Gelmini, who also owns and runs Il Cinghiale Rosso in Milan, sources many of the bottles from small independent producers in Italy, with some not available elsewhere in the UK. Attentive and knowledgeable, the staff really do know their wine and their enthusiasm lights up the room. Divided into 17 regions across Italy, bottles start at £22 for a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC moving up to £150 for a Barolo, with the majority priced at £30 – £50. Wine is also available by the glass, with prices ranging from £5.50 per glass up to £18 for an Amarone.

Don’t leave without: Sipping on one of Enoteca Rosso’s Negronis. Served over a gigantic sphere of ice with a twist of orange peel, this refreshing Italian cocktail is a perfect start to the meal.

Last word: Enoteca Rosso does classic Italian cooking with a flourish. Offering an impressive wine list alongside a remarkable number of elements made in house, as well as vegan and vegetarian options, this restaurant is a West London delight that happily won’t leave you povero.

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