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Alloro - Mayfair Modern Italian

Italian cooking has to be London's favourite. There are far fewer genuine French restaurants, but every week another Italian restaurant opens, and on the whole, the dining experience is very good. Alloro is smart, after all, it's in Dover Street, just off Piccadilly opposite the Ritz. But there's nothing intimidating about the atmosphere: the staff are friendly and welcoming, the ambience is relaxed, the decor modern but restrained, the tables well sited so that you feel neither to close nor too isolated from your fellow diners.

The menu has plenty of variety, without being suspiciously long or elaborate. From the list of eight Antipasti we tried the seared scallops, which were thick and juicy and had a fresh sweet-marine flavour They came  attractively decorated with a sharp sherry vinegar and cherry tomato sauce. From the eight Primi Piatti, we selected the most delicious  ravioli filled with minced pheasant, shallots and thyme. The home made pasta parcels were perfectly cooked and the filling was rich and gamey. There are also tortellini filled with pumpkin and pecorino cheese, I bet they are equally gorgeous. My friend had the black pasta (linguettine nere) with a crab and sweet chilli sauce. This is another starter to die for, but we also had to try the special risotto with freshly shaved white truffles. You just can't resist having white truffles in early December. The risotto at Alloro was simply the best risotto I've had for quite a while. The grains were firm but yielding to the tooth and the maximum amount of excellent stock had been absorbed so that the rice was coated in a creamy sauce. If I were to be hyper-critical I'd say that the intensity of flavour (ideal under normal circumstances) was just a touch too strong for the breathtaking delicacy of the truffles. But any more ecstasy and I'd have thought I'd died and gone to heaven!

From the main course list - Secondi di pesce e carne - we went very carnivorous. I'll have to come back again to see what they do with sea bass and fennel, or char grilled tuna steak. On this occasion I had duck breast which was nice and pink and had superb wild mushrooms and an ingenious potato salsa, though the duck itself lacked that vital quack factor, (my measure of duck flavour). My friend's slow cooked lamb shank was excellent and tender, with a balsamic sauce was tangy enough to cut the dark richness of the meat. Each dish was garnished with different vegetables integrated into the whole concept.

I was tempted by a selection of Italian cheeses served with truffle honey, but plumped for hot panettone and white chocolate soufflé with vanilla sauce. This was really superb. It's a very clever variant on the warm chocolate fondant with the molten choc oozing out of the sponge. Here the panettone is somehow stuffed with molten white chocolate - the effect is stunning! Alloro does a pretty good Tiramisu as well - we enjoyed its clever presentation in a tuille basket along with a wickedly dark and light chocolate sauce. 

We drank a very pleasant Barbera d'Asti 1998 "Il Sogno" from Fontanafredda, selected by our helpful sommelier. All the waiting staff were really professional as well as being very charming.

Clifford Mould December 2001

The cost of your meal: 
Dinner 2 courses £25.00, 3 courses £28.00, 4 courses £32.00
Lunch  2 courses £19.50, 3 courses £23.50 (most dishes are the same as at dinner)

Alloro, 19-20 Dover Street, London W1X 3PB
tel: 020 7495 4768 fax: 7629 5348

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Dine Online Copyright Clifton Media Associates December 2001, All rights reserved.

Views or opinions expressed by authors are not necessarily those of the publishers, Clifton Media Associates. While every care is taken in compiling this publication, the publishers cannot assume responsibility for any effects arising therefrom.