21 Berners Street, London, England, W1T 3LP, United Kingdom

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Latium is opposite the Sanderson hotel. A narrow dining room is smartly decorated, with black slate floors, white walls and a few framed food photos on the walls. Lighting from ceiling spot lights is effective, and each table has a crisp white linen tablecloth and a single canna lily for decoration (the flower display in the window was, it has to be said, well past its best). The Italian menu was appealing, and specialised in ravioli; indeed there was a whole page of ravioli choices.

Three courses are £28.50, two courses £24.50; at lunch this goes down to £19.50 for three courses, £15.50 for two. The wine list was all Italian and ranged widely in price, from a £14.50 house wine to serious examples like Antinori Tignanello 2000 for £150 (retail price £43). There is plenty of choice in the mid range, and the maitre d’ understood his list well and offered sound advice.

Nibbles of a little fried rice ball with tomato and a cheese and tomato bread were a pleasant introduction, though a mini calzone with Parma ham and Mozzarela suffered from the calzone being rather too hard (13/20). The restaurant goes to the trouble of making its own bread as well as the pasta, and the bread is worth their efforts: sun dried tomato rolls, olive rolls, good walnut and raisin bread and especially the crisp carta de musica Sardinian parchment bread were very capably made (15/20). I began with a well presented salad of quail, prawns, artichoke and beetroot crisps with a beetroot dressing; this was offered with a little frisee lettuce. The prawns were a touch overcooked, the quail pleasant, while the beetroot dressing ultimately overwhelmed the other flavours (12/20). Better was a courgette flower stuffed with crab and served with broad beans, diced tomatoes, more frisee lettuce and a broad bean sauce. This was a pretty dish with harmonious flavours (14/20). 

For main course I had a ravioli of crab tortelli with rocket sauce. Though the pasta was pleasant, the ravioli was resting in a clear broth flavoured with rocket, which did not help its texture, and the rocket flavour was too much for the delicate crab (13/20). Tagliatelli with artichoke had good pasta but suffered from grey, rather tasteless artichokes and was a little dry; the ratio of pasta to sauce was not quite right (12/20). A chocolate ice cream was made on the premises from good dark chocolate and tasted fine, but again the dish was let down up by being served with a soggy wafer. Coffee was fine, served with some pleasant chocolates, again made in the kitchen rather than bought in. Service was capable, and while our waitress was efficient but rather po-faced, the maitre d’ was charm itself. 

The chef here (Maurizio Morelli) used to be head chef at (now defunct) Ibla and has a decent track record. He clearly puts a lot of effort in e.g. making the breads and chocolates. The cooking this evening was let down by some ordinary produce (the grey artichokes) and the odd minor error (e.g. the soggy wafer with the ice cream). However the price is quite low for genuine Italian food, and it is a place that is hard not to like.

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