Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A little horse worthy of backing

Cavallino is a new Chelsea restaurant that is partly owned by 5ft 4 inch tall Champion Jockey Frankie Dettori. Appropriately the name means “the little horse” and Dettori’s involvement in Cavallino follows on from his successful partnership with Marco Pierre-White in their Frankie’s chain. 

Neutrally decorated, Cavallino’s walls are adorned with images by iconic photographers such as John Stoddart of personalities including Martin Scorsese and Pierce Brosnan. The opening party earlier this summer itself brought a number of well known individuals to the restaurant, amongst them Ronnie Wood, Boris Becker, Nicky Haslam and Lapo Elkann.

Frankie Dettori MBE pictured with Cavallino's head chef, Roberto Bortolotto

Chef Roberto Bortolotto, formerly of Zafferano, has created a menu that combines traditional Italian cooking with modern flavours and focuses on using fresh produce.

At just £12.50 for two courses, Cavallino’s set menu is great value and I have to admit the minestrone soup I tried was hearty and certainly a fine example of this cornerstone of Italian cuisine. To follow I opted for meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. The portion was generous and other options included chicken paillard with spinach and penne arrabiata.

The à la carte menu features starters such as fried calamari with tartare sauce (£12) and San Daniele ham with Comice pears (£14). Amongst the pasta dishes offered at Cavallino are spaghetti with clams and caviar of bottarga (£18) and taglioni baked with ham, cream and Parmesan cheese (£11/£15) whilst other options include ossobuco with golden crunch saffron risotto (£26) and a tuna steak with rocket and Sicilian tomato salad (£20).

To conclude I tried a tiramisu that was contemporary in terms of style and then followed with a selection of British cheeses. Other options include chocolate mousse and a semifreddo with mango. All are priced at £7.

The stylish interior of Cavallino

The wine list focuses on offerings in the £20 to £60 range and includes favourites such as Gavi di Gavi La Minaia di Niola Bergaglio 2010 at £31 a bottle and Barolo DOCG Paesi Tuoi Terre da Vino 2005 at £49 a bottle. For those seeking something more adventurous, Dettori’s special selection includes Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido 2007 at £249 a bottle and Solaia Antinori 2007 at £299 a bottle.

Rather appropriately Enzo Ferrari chose a little rampante horse as the logo for his company and since it has come to be symbolic of style and quality. Cavallino, equally, has both in abundance and if you happen to be on the search for Italian food that is truly delicious and great value for money, this is a little horse that is well worth visiting.

Cavallino, 4 Syndey Street, London, SW3 6PP. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7352 3435. Website:

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Anonymous said...

Is Guido still the manager?

Anonymous said...

Great value for money. Thank you for the suggestion, Matthew. We very much enjoyed the pasta and will return.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion Matthew. I may well try this one this weekend.

Penny said...

Da Steeps: Did this used to be Carpaccio? I wondered what was going to replace it and this sounds like it is much better. Next time I'm in London I'll give it a whirl.

Selina B said...

Your review has definitely tempted me to try this restaurant. I'm adding it to my list of places to visit. Thanks M.

Scarlett said...

Another of your suggestions that I shall definitely try. I like the sound of the menu and the prospect of running into Mr Dettori would make my day!!!

Alex P said...

I am normally not a fan of neighbourhood restaurants that serve Italian food as generally they are run by people who've been on holiday to Italy and think they can cook. Two examples are in Elystan Street and another is Kicca in Draycott Avenue. At Cavallino the cooking is superb and the pasta dishes divinely enjoyable. The setting is stylish and attractively bright and the result is well worth taking in for yourself if you haven't managed to already.

Beatrice said...

Non provato Cavallino ma mi piace il nome come il cavallino rampante è il simbolo dei miei preferiti. Qual è il loro piatto forte?

Annabel said...

Matthew: Will you please invite me to lunch there next time you decide to pay it a visit? It sounds GLORIOUS.