Signor Sassi has been serving Italian food in Knightsbridge since 1984. Ever since 2007 it has been part of the San Carlo restaurant group. The dining room is narrow, with banquette seating and a large mirror along one wall. The floor is tiled and the noise levels were high. The dining room seats just over 60 at one time, and there are two private dining rooms in addition. The tables are tiny, rammed together so close that it requires some careful manoeuvring to get in and out. The menu was vast, with a two page selection of specials of the day that was longer than most restaurant menus. Fantinel Collio Pinot Grigio (no vintage listed) was £36.50 for a wine that retails at around £11. A misspelt Jermann Dreams (again with no vintage listed) was priced at £89 for a wine that you can find in a shop for around £39, while Antinori 2008 Tignanello was £115 for a wine that will set you back around £52.
Seared tuna with fennel (£13.60) suffered from poor ingredients, both the tuna and fennel managing to be remarkably lacking in taste (1/10 if I am kind). Better were scallops with toast (£13.80), the trio of scallops served on scallop shells and smothered in a brown sauce that was notionally flavoured with mustard and chilli. The scallops themselves were actually cooked quite well, though the sauce was one-dimensional and subtracted from rather than enhanced the scallops (between 1/10 and 2/10).
Tagliolini with langoustines (£19.50) had rather grainy pasta but, worse, langoustines that had been so overcooked that they were reduced to a mush (0/10). Thin spaghetti (£18.50) with prawns, chilli, anchovies, capers olives, parsley and tomatoes was easily the best dish of the evening, the pasta pleasant, the prawns a little overcooked but entirely edible, the tomatoes having pleasant flavour (3/10). It transpired that most of the desserts, even the ice cream, was bought in rather than made in the kitchen, so I did not bother with that course.
I rarely dwell on the service in a restaurant as for me the main thing about a restaurant is the food, but I will spend a few moments on the service tonight, given that it was so memorable. The service from start to finish was utterly pathetic this evening. The receptionist had trouble finding the reservation, then we were given a deadline to finish our meal, but no effort was made to take our order. When we finally hailed a waiter and ordered our food and drinks we waited, and waited some more, but no drinks appeared, despite several inquiries. Our starters appeared before our wine or water. The waiters had no clue who had ordered what dish (a simple tasks even high street chains like TGI Fridays manage successfully), and despite plenty of staff for the cramped dining room hardly any attempt was made to top up the wine or water. Finally, when we managed to get the bill, a random glass of champagne that we had not ordered was added to our bill. I have had far, far better service in a Pizza Hut. Coffee was charged at £2.85 per cup, and there was a “cover charge” of £2 per person. The bill for two courses and a cheap bottle of wine came to £77 a head. This was a dismal evening, the mediocre food dramatically worsened as an experience by the completely incompetent service. The dining room had plenty of customers, so the place obviously has an appeal to its target audience, though other than masochists I have no idea what that might be.