Italian small plates, sexy cocktails, refined interiors and fantastic service. Just a few of the things you can expect to find at my local Italian restaurant – Ritorno. A sumptuous bar and restaurant on the King’s Road in Chelsea with a mixture of the elegant lifestyle of Milan, complemented by fine wines and cocktails in chic surroundings. It’s perfectly suited to Chelsea.
It looks absolutely gorgeous inside too and there’s just as lovely a terrace outside which creeps all the way around the restaurant. We popped indoors first to sample a cocktail at the illuminated bar. Two delectable and very well made negroni’s. Perhaps some of the best I’ve had all year.
Our faces suitably warmed up from the punchy negroni’s, we took a seat outside on the restaurant fabulous terrace. Some warm home-made bread followed, as did what seemed like an endless glass of Franciacorta – a sparkling wine from the Province of Brescia which is located just eat of Milan. Our server Giulio was impeccable too and really made me feel at home in the restaurant which always counts for alot.
The first of our dishes to arrive from this small plates inspired menu was one of my favourites from the evening. Fresh tuna tartare, layered with ripe chunks of avocado, smooth avocado cream and a light soy dressing. A really stunning plate of food.
Another favourite was the fried zucchini flowers with burrata, anchovies and plum tomato sauce. Each zucchini flower was covered in a lovely crisp batter and the anchovies filled the centre of them in what was almost a cream. The tomato sauce had clearly been slow cooked for hours too. Priced at £7.50 (at time of writing) I thought it was fantastic value, especially if you’re looking to simply sit in the sun with a cocktail or two.
I have no idea what Ritorno has up their sleeves for the Winter menu (if anything), but I must say the current dishes are so spot on for these warmer Summer months. Lots of freshness, colour and some zingy drinks to pair with everything. The Buffalo mozzarella with heritage tomatoes was something you expect and hope to see on every Italian menu and it didn’t disappoint. Some dishes even managed to surprise me, such as the broad bean mash with Sicilian chickpea fritters. A little saltiness, a little sweetness and lots of texture.
“Fassona” beef carpaccio needs no introduction and is something I always love ordering when in the right Italian restaurant. Here they top it with a rich Parmigiano Reggiano cream – for a little extra indulgence.
So far we’d enjoyed a mixture of hot and cold dishes and with the night drawing in – it was time for some real body warming dish. Food for the soul if you will. The cavatelli pasta was another favourite of mine and I always love eating it when it’s well cooked, with that fantastic bite it can offer. The pasta was mixed into a rich tomato sauce, packed with King crab, Italian plum tomato sauce and topped with Pistachio of Bronte. A yet another immensely satisfying plate of food.
It was a little dark by this point and I was on my second helping of something strong (grappa I think), so do excuse my final photos – but we did managed to enjoy dessert. The classic tiramisu and a refreshing sorbet to finish our night.
I really did enjoy my dinner at Ritorno and thought it was an excellent addition to the King’s Road and the Chelsea dining scene. I wasn’t sure at first what Ritorno was originally trying to offer, but now I’ve met the people, the handsome looking staff and impeccable service – I’ve come to realise that these guys have it spot on. This is classic Italian cooking made for conversation and a few too many cocktails. Ritorno is my kind of venue and I can’t wait to return very soon.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.