REVIEW: Primo, Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Garden

Opening its doors last December, Primo is a new high-end Italian restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue, on the edge of Theatreland. It’s also perfect for a pre-meal before an evening out in Soho. Primo is an elegant, but relaxed dining experience offering traditional Italian cuisine using top-quality ingredients.The restaurant offers Jazz on Thursday and Friday evenings, sadly when we dined it wasn’t on, I’m not quite sure why and we didn’t seem to get an explanation either. Luckily the cocktails we sipped on were so delicious they helped to recover from our loss of Jazz. The whisky sour and raspberry based special of the day was extremely moorish, but dangerously so. Each table has a cover charge of £2, which gives you olives, garlic bread and a tomato bruschetta style topping. The charge is a bit old fashioned in London, but you do get your moneys worth so we didn’t mind too much.

The menu is quite extensive, with options for pasta, risottos, classic Italian dishes such as veal osso buco and high quality seafood and meats from the grill. I started with the bresaola, rocket salad, parmesan and olive oil. The bresaola was was soft with a melt in your mouth texture and had a lovely peppered crumb. The rocket was extremely fresh and peppery while the parmesan lacked in flavour. It was a good dish, with nice simple ingredients.

The pasta dish of pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil was divine. The pappardelle is made on site and has a lovely silky texture. Truffles are one of my favourite things to indulge in, though unfortunately not as often as I would like, due to the price! The porcini and truffle oil sauce was excellent, very intense but well balanced. The portion size was huge and I couldn’t quite finish it off, for £16 it was a good deal.

The veal milanese arrived at the table and strangely resembled the shape of a hot water bottle, and was also the size of a small blanket, it was huge. Tasty veal coated in a crunchy golden crumb with no greasiness and cooked perfectly. We ordered a side of mash to compliment which was smooth and buttery, though maybe a bit over the top with the buttering. The dish was £30 including the mash, it wasn’t cheap, but portion sizes definitely make up for the price. If you’re looking for a treat, then it’s money well spent.

Extremely full at this point but managed to find some room to squeeze in a couple of the delicious sounding desserts. The classic tiramisu arrived, served in a cup with a dark chocolate twirl popping out. It was definitely one of the more unusual tiramisus I’ve had in awhile, very thick and dense, with a lot of cream in it. Although it was a little different, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would go as far as saying it was the best tiramisu I have had all year.

Almond crème brulee arrived and was presented beautifully. The top was very well caramelized and had a good crunch when smashed into with the back of my spoon. The overall flavour was good, though it was very intense, with a lot of sweetness coming through. I don’t think almond is made for a crème brulee. Still, it was nice to try and something a bit different.

Overall I thought Primo’s extensive and well thought out menu was very good and could cater to most tastes or fancies. The restaurant itself is well executed with a lovely grown up decor. My only gripe would be service still needs to become a bit more polished. The wine list is excellent, cocktails are delicious and the food is good. Would I return? Yes, but maybe only for that special occasion as prices are not cheap. A meal for two with wine, service and water will set you back around £130.


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