Editor's note: in April 2023 Francesco Mazzei left the D&D restaruant group, which owns Sartoria.
The executive chef of Sartoria, which is within the large D&D restaurant group, is Francesco Mazzei. The charming Mr Mazzei grew up in Calabria and trained in Rome and at The Dorchester in London. Amongst other postings, he was head chef of the Corbin and King restaurant St Alban. He built a reputation for himself at the excellent l’Anima, a restaurant widely regarded (including by me) as one of the very best in London though it was never given a star by Michelin. He now oversees several restaurants with the D&D group. Sartoria (“tailoring” in Italian) is smartly decorated and has a long frontage in Savile Row, a street famous for its bespoke tailors.
The a la carte menu had starter dishes averaging £18, pasta dishes averaging £24 and main courses averaging £35 with side dishes at £7.50 and desserts averaging £9 or so. The wine list had 185 labels and ranged in price from £45 to £3,300, with a median price of £110 and an average markup to retail price of a very hefty 3.5 times based on a decent sample of the wines that I looked up. Sample references were Pieno Sud Rosso Terre Siciliane 2019 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £8, Gavi de Gavi La Meirana 2019 at £85 compared to its retail price of £17, and the lovely Vintage Tunina Jermann 2018 at £155 for a wine that will set you back £46 in the high street. For those with the means there was the gorgeous Antinori Tignanello 2017 at £275 compared to its retail price of £122, and Rosso Colli Orientali Miani 2015 at £330 for a wine whose current market value is £99.
The bread selection was made from scratch in the kitchen and was of consistently good quality, from light focaccia through to airy ciabatta and crisp grissini. Our meal began with an array of starter dishes to sample. The star of these for me was the dish of raw Mazara red prawns. These shellfish are named after the town of Mazara del Vallo in southwestern Sicily, and are fished in deep waters off the south coast of the island. These prawns have exceptional flavour, being very sweet in flavour. They were paired with seasonal blood oranges and a little onion salad. Although this is a very simple dish it really was impressive, the acidity of the orange a natural pairing for the sweetness of the prawns (17/20). Also very good was a single lightly cooked scallop served in its shell along with nduja, the spicy pork sausage from Calabria. The scallop had good natural sweetness and worked well with the spiciness of the nduja, whose flavour was well controlled and did not overwhelm the scallop (16/20). Carpaccio of sea bass with cherry tomatoes and basil grown in London was very good, the sea bass palpably fresh and the basil having deep flavour (15/20). Scallop also appeared in raw form along with bitter leaves, anchovy water, balsamic and basil, the potentially strong flavour of the anchovy nicely controlled, whilst the scallops tasted very fresh (15/20). A crab and apple salad was pleasant, a natural combination with the apple to balance the sweetness of the crab, though in this case I think the crab flavour could have been a little more evident, and did have a small piece of crab shell tucked away in it (14/20). Deep fried squid was served simply with some lemon, and certainly had a quite light batter compared to many versions of this dish. I have been rather spoilt by the feather light tempura of top places in Tokyo however, so I tend to be a rather harsh judge of deep-fried seafood now (14/20).
Next was a risotto that used Acquarello aged carnaroli rice. The risotto had creamy texture and was garnished with another of the lovely red prawns and splash of sauce made from the juices from the head of the prawn. The texture was excellent, the rice having nicely absorbed its stock (16/20). This was followed by tagliolini, the pasta made from scratch in the kitchen and garnished with black truffles from Umbria (16/20). The main course was wild sea bass cooked in a rock salt crust, the fillet served with artichokes, tomato, basil and a little balsamic vinegar. The fish was nicely cooked and the artichokes went well with it, the main plate accompanied by a simple salad of rocket, fennel and tomato (14/20).
I was impressed with a pre-dessert of lemon and mandarin sorbet with topped with passion fruit. The sorbet had smooth texture and deep citrus flavour, working really well with the passion fruit (17/20). A final dessert of zabaglione is something that you rarely see on menus these days. It is a rich and deliciously simple dish of egg yolks, sugar and (usually) marsala. It is easy to be overly sweet but the one today was nicely judged, though it could have been a touch warmer when served (14/20). Coffee was Musetti, which is never really a good choice when there are so many better coffee brands easily available in London.
Service was excellent, led today by a gentleman who I remember working in the front of house during the glory days of Apsleys, when gifted chef Heros de Agostinis was producing superb food. I was with a friend today who had booked, was well known to the restaurant and had a customised tasting menu prepared in advance, so I did not see a bill, but if you ordered three courses a la carte and shared a modest bottle of wine that a typical cost per head might be around £90 or so. I should emphasise that Francesco Mazzei was in residence today and was actually cooking, which is not always the case since he oversees a few restaurants. Consequently, we had a particularly attentive experience. Nonetheless, based on this excellent meal I would be very happy to come back, despite the high price point.
Further reviews: 05th Jan 2016