I am going to let you in on a secret today.
One of London’s best kept secrets actually and it involves some very special Italian food and a bit of celebrity spotting. Tucked away on a quiet residential street just off the bustling Kings Road in the heart of Chelsea is a restaurant called Ziani’s. It’s the kind of resturant that you wouldn’t really notice as you walk past unless you were in the know ofcourse. No big neon sign here, it’s all about the understated elegance and that’s what makes Ziani’s special.
The dining space at Ziani’s is pretty small with tables packed quite closely together. Surrounded by photos signed by celebrity patrons and a lot of Italian’s (obviously), you cannot help but feel like you are in a restaurant somewhere on the cobbled streets of Venice.
Speaking of Venice, Ziani’s specialises in Venetian cuisine and their menu is packed with all the favourites you would expect like the Mozzarella in Carrozza (Deep-fried mozzarella with a spicy tomato sauce) and a few Ziani specialties like the Creppe Ziani that comes with mascarpone cream, topped with crushed almond biscuit and a dash of Tia Maria.
My friends Tess and Will live in the neighbourhood and swear by Ziani’s. I can now see why! Where else do you get greeted by a hug as you walk through the door? Owner Roberto Ziani and his team of Italian waiters really make your dining experience special. The relaxed atmosphere here makes you feel like you are dining at a friend’s. If only my friends could cook like this!
After a very generous helping of bread and some great Italian wine, the starters began rolling in. Christ they were good!
The Prosciutto ai Frutti di Stagione (Parma ham served with fresh fruit) was absolutely spot on. You cannot go wrong with good quality meat. The Mozzarella in Carrozza that Seb ordered was to die for. The deep-fried mozzarella was crunchy on the outside and perfectly gooey as you stuck your fork in. The spicy tomato sauce that it was served with was seasoned to perfection too without being overbearing. Highly recommended.
My favourite starter however was the Funghi e Capesante. I just love the distinct texture of scallops and a lot of restaurants overcook them which just ruins them for me. I was pleased to see that the sea scallops at Ziani’s were sautéed to perfection and the seasoning was just right. The scallops also work extremely well with the mushroom and rocket in this dish. It’s a simple Italian dish done well.
If starters were anything to go by, mains were going to be great and Ziani’s didn’t disappoint. Our friendly waiter made sure that our glasses were always topped up and his suggestions for mains went down a treat. I tried the Agnello alle Acciughe based on his suggestions and couldn’t have been happier. I wasn’t sure about lamb sautéed with anchovies, garlic and herbs but it tasted great. I am not usually a fan of anchovies but it really brought out the other flavours in this dish without overpowering it. I would happily eat this again!
Seb tried the Carpaccio di Tonno al Balsamico which is tuna carpaccio marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fennel seeds and lemon juice, topped with fresh chilli and served with rucola salad. Sounds amazing? It was! It tasted just as good as it looked. The raw tuna was fresh and the light citrus and vinegar season was all it required. That’s the beauty of Italian cooking – simple seasoning = big flavours.
No trip to an Italian restaurant is complete without some pasta. We ordered two different ones to see what Ziani’s had to offer. The Penne Rustiche which comes with wild boar sausage and aubergine was as good as it was going to get. What really did it for me was the spicy tomato sauce which was just perfection – simple yet full of flavour! We also ordered the Spaghettini di Pesce, a seafood pasta dish which again was spot on. Fresh, fishy and flavoursome, I would highly recommend this dish if you fancy some pasta. You are definitely not going to go hungry at Ziani’s – the portion sizes are massive.
We couldn’t resist desserts after looking at the Venetian menu at Ziani’s. We just had to try a few of them. My favourites were the Creppe Ziani and the Tirami Su. The Tirami Su was light and fresh and the taste of coffee definitely shone through. I would highly recommend either (or both) if you have a sweet tooth like me.
As you can probably tell, I absolutely love Ziani’s. I don’t know another restaurant in London that greets you with a hug and a smile. This family run Italian restaurant with it’s Venetian menu, great food and friendly service is a great spot if you want to impress or if you just fancy some great Italian food. It’s hearty, it’s Italian and it’s bloody great! Infact it’s one of my favourite Italian restaurants in the city and looks like it’s going to stay like that for a long time to come.
If you decide to try Ziani’s, say hi to Robert and team for me. 🙂