“Hidden Gem: Authentic Italian in Covent Garden”
Overall rating: 4 stars
Price: £35 for 3 courses & a drink
Location: Covent Garden
I was lucky enough to be invited to Orso, an authentic Italian restaurant situated just off Covent Garden market. The entrance takes you down a flight of stairs to the basement, where the restaurant is situated. Even so, it does not feel dark or claustrophobic, with wall lamps and candlelit tables contributing to a warm ambiance.
As I entered the restaurant, I was warmly greeted by a waitress who informed me of the story behind Orso. The restaurant opened in 1985, and the owner named it ‘Orso’ (Italian for bear) after a dog that used to frequent the bars and restaurants of Milan and Venice whilst he was there. An image of Orso the dog is proudly placed near the entrance, along with several black and white shots of scenes of Italian life, and Italian actors and actresses. Such themes accentuate the authentic Italian experience.
The meal was kicked off by a cocktail entitled ‘Dark and Stormy’, featuring a combination of Myers Rum, Angostura, Fresh Lime and Ginger Beer. The cocktail menu is innovative and features several Italian classics such as the Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Bellini. I was then served a glass of the red merlot, in a very cute little jug!
The menu is wide ranging, with pasta, risotto, and a variety of meat and fish, however, there are few vegetarian options for the main courses. To start, I was offered a selection of dishes from the waiter’s choice: Zucchini Fritte, Calamari Fritte and the Sardinian Flatbread with Garlic and Rosemary. All three dishes were excellent; the flatbread was crisp and slightly salted. #
For the main course I had the Pollo alla Griglia, which was a grilled spring chicken seasoned with parsley and lemon, served on a bed of sliced cherry tomatoes. The chicken was delicious and light, however could have benefitted from a side sauce. I also sampled the mashed potatoes and garlic and rosemary potato side dishes. Both were extremely tasty and complemented the chicken. The food was well presented and served on, what looked like, hand painted plates, adding a homely feel.
The waiter informed us that the Fegato di Vitello was the most frequently ordered dish by customers, so my mother took his advice and ordered the liver which was very succulent.
For dessert, we tried the Affogato and the Panna Cotta, which was beautifully presented. To conclude, we had a cappuccino, and a fresh mint tea.
The staff were friendly, attentive and welcoming. The restaurant is popular among theatre goers, given its location in the heart of the theatre district. It is even possible for customers to eat their starter and main before a play, and return afterwards for desert. Its relaxed atmosphere makes it a suitable choice for a wide variety of party types, including children and families.
Overall, I would definitely recommend a trip to Orso. It is excellent value for money, and has character, and is therefore a great change from the over-visited Italian chains in London. The dishes were all of a consistent high quality, so you can rest assured that you will enjoy whatever you order. On top of this, the excellent service ensures that customers have an enjoyable experience at Orso.
27 Wellington Street
Tel: 020 7240 5269
Monday – Sunday : 12 noon – 12pm