Zafferano has had some serious chefs in its kitchen over the years since it opened in 1995. After Giorgio Locatelli left to open his own restaurant the kitchen was led for many years by Andy Needham, who now runs l’Amorosa. Now in charge is Daniele Camera, who was sous chef here and then returned as head chef after a stint abroad. Executive chef is Miles Nixon, who has worked with the group that owns Zafferano since 2004 . The dining room has well-spaced tables and an extensive covered open-air terrace.
The a la carte menu has plenty of crowd-pleasing dishes. The mostly Italian wine list has just over three hundred labels, ranging in price from £30 to £14,900 with a median price of £170, reflecting the Belgravia setting. The markups sadly also reflect the neighbourhood, with an average markup of just over four times retail, which is indefensible. Example bottles were Chardonnay San Michele Appiano 2018 at £52 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £22, The Soprano Shiraz d'Aria 2016 at £63 compared to its retail price of £23, and the excellent Jermann Were Dreams 2012 at £145 for a bottle that will set you back £53 in a shop. For those with the means, Antinori Solaia 2006 was £690 compared to its retail price of £311, while Masseto Tenuta Ornellaia 1998 was £2,400 for a wine whose current market value is £898.
I started with one of the signature dishes here, a saffron risotto (£16 for a starter portion). This was a lovely dish, the rice having absorbed its chicken stock and glistening on the plate, the deep yellow colour picked out by flecks of red saffron. Both the silky texture and the flavour were a delight (16/20). For my main course I had tagliolini topped with grated truffles from Umbria (£50). Given the time of year, these truffles were summer truffles, either tuber aestivum or tuber uncinatum, as the most prized black truffles (tuber melanosporum) are in season from December to February. The pasta had excellent texture and the gentle earthy fragrance of the truffle was a pleasing contrast to the pasta (15/20).
For dessert, a modern take on tiramisu had light texture and plenty of coffee flavour (15/20). The bill came to £163 a head, albeit with some very good wine. If you shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per head might be nearer £95. Service was excellent, as I have always found it here over the years. Zafferano is one of the most reliable Italian restaurants in London.Book