Il Gattopardo, or ‘The Leopard’ in Italian, is the first own-brand concept from the global restaurateurs behind London stalwarts such as COYA, Amazónico and Bar des Prés. This is not your cookie-cutter Italian restaurant in Mayfair. Il Gattopardo brings stunning food, the best pizzette in London, a very cool atmosphere and utterly charming service.
Executive Chef Massimo Pasquarelli, a native of the Abruzzo region, began his career in Monza — just outside Milan, before embarking on a decade-long career with culinary icon Alain Ducasse and most recently was Executive Chef of the Ritz Carlton Singapore. His love of Italian produce and cooking partnered with his extensive fine dining experience will ensure Il Gattopardo excels at creating a refined and elegant menu that focuses on authenticity.
The best pizzette in London
Before we get into the food, we need to discuss the pizzette. Alongside the expertise of Massimo Pasquarelli is Senior Head Chef, Matteo D’elia. Matteo fell in love with cooking from a young age with his first internship at a restaurant in Rome. “Well it might not be a secret anymore, Italian chefs are very lucky to work with an enormous variety of excellent ingredients due to the unique location of Italy,” Matteo said. “The secret to Italian cooking is its simplicity because nature already made it so diverse.”
The team at Il Gattopardo as well as this concept of simplicity are very evident in the pizzette that we tried and that we will keep going back for. Classically Italian toppings of Mozzarella di bufala and Datterino tomato sauce are topped off with a delicate yet fragrant basil oil. The flavours combine so well together but the real secret here is in the dough, which is a family recipe. The pizza is light & crispy, has that special fragrance of an Italian bakery, can take a generous amount of toppings and is just the right size. The pizza is based on the recipe of the Pinsa Romana, a high-hydration dough which is refrigerated for at least 24 hours to prove before baking. The word Pinsa comes from the Latin Pinsere “to pinch” and is the delicate way you handle the dough before baking. This pizzette is a MUST TRY.
The best way to enjoy the food here is to share everything and try different bits from the whole menu. Signature dishes include Gamberi, Sicilian Mazara prawns, yellow chicory, citrus zest, Taggiasca olive oil; Astice, lobster gnocchi; and a Northern Italy specialty: 24-month aged Culatello di Zibello Oro Spigaroli, Oro Spigaroli, gnocco fritto. A dedicated Crudo Bar serves a selection of raw and marinated fish and shellfish reminiscent of the bountiful fresh seafood of the Italian Riviera.
Making the most of opening in the peak of white truffle season, the restaurant will offer Alba truffles as a supplement on all dishes, priced on weight and shaved at the table. The classics also appear and are delivered with perfection including a Vitello Tonnato and the most tender grilled octopus with celery, rocket and olives. A word of warning: The tiramisu to share is BIG so make sure you leave enough space for it.
A warm colour palette and dark woods are brought to life with bold splashes of cobalt blue and signature leopard print touches, whilst free-form sculptures, objects and artwork speak to the influence of the master of Italian flair. Downstairs, a private dining room takes on the look and feel of a private apartment and with its own bar and DJ decks is ideal for group gatherings.
The interiors have been created in partnership with European design duo, Dion & Arles, and blend classical design references with mid-century modernism and playful twists, taking inspiration from the style of the celebrated Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti. On entering the 85-cover restaurant the crudo bar sits opposite a salon with an open fireplace, leading on to the main dining room and, beyond that, a hidden terrace with a retractable roof revealing an alluring alfresco space, as well as a secret snug. For the discerning, fashion-forward eye, notable Italian brands can be found in the creative porcelain plates from Ginori; and the Il Gattoparo hostess dresses are from Milan-based maximalist label, La Double J.
What about the drinks?
The Il Gattopardo cocktail menu features sections devoted to Aperitivo, Negronis and after dinner drinks. The absolute signature is the Gattopardo Negroni which is aged for 6 months and combines a 12-ingredient secret recipe Amaro and an Italian fortified wine, Passito di Pantelleria. The names of many of the cocktails on the list act as a nod to the 1960s heyday of cinema and glamour, including Roman Holiday, a twist on a classic Americano, with wild berry kombucha; or Amici Miei, a Bramble-style cocktail made with homemade Sambuco cordial, fig marmalade and Amarena cherry liqueur.
The wine list offers over 450 bottles with a deep focus on Italian grape varieties, and in particular a large selection from Piedmont and Tuscany. For the more serious oenophiles, a range of vintages from some renowned producers showcase potential ageing and diversity of style from the likes of Cantina Terlano, Pieropan, Aldo Conterno, Tinanello and Sassicaia.
In a nutshell
Il Gattopardo has only been open a few weeks but feels like it has been here for years. Elegance, sophistication, outstanding food, the best pizzette in London and a great location makes Il Gattopardo London one of our top three favourite openings of 2023.
To discover more, visit: gattopardo.restaurant
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Imagery courtesy of Il Gattopardo London.