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Getti  -  42 Marylebone High Street W1

Il piacere di mangiare  Louise Elgin's Italian is perfect 

Eating a really good meal in the company of close friends with plenty of fine wine has to be one of life's indispensable pleasures. Il piacere di mangiare - the pleasure of eating sums up the philosophy behind the Getti restaurant group. I sensed a huge pride in the staff who obviously shared the passions of their management, a feeling akin to family. Getti, pronounced jetty, is where you should go next time you're in the mood for some serious Italian cooking. There are several factors which make their restaurants stand out from the crowd. Firstly the quality of the menu: their chefs are actively encouraged to take advantage of Italy's huge regional culinary heritage and to recreate the tastes of their childhood roots. Secondly the wine list, which includes a broad geographical  spread of wines available in Italy whilst designed to be reasonably short and approachable. Amazingly, the entire list is available by the glass from freshly opened bottles, a huge plus in my opinion.

The menu is divided into several sections. To begin we had the choice of 10 antipasti, including marinated octopus with potatoes and french beans, £7.90 and calamari with borlotti beans and wild fennel, olive oil and a touch of garlic, £8.95. There were also some tempting pasta and risotto dishes including spaghetti all' aragosta - half a fresh lobster, cherry tomatoes, white wine and a touch of fresh chilli and garlic, £17.30, or risotto with roasted king prawns and asparagus, £12.10.

We began with the chicken livers sautéed with white grapes on crostini, £6.80 and the compote of swordfish with potatoes, green beans, olive oil lemon and herbs, £8.95. The chicken livers came nicely sauced, had a good texture, were rich in flavours and were very tender, contrasting well with the white grapes and the freshness of the crostini underneath. The swordfish was cold and came served in a nest. It had a strong swordfish flavour, slightly oily in texture cut by something sharp, and came with perfectly cooked potatoes and al dente green beans, perfect for the hot evening temperatures. We were trying an excellent wine from Sardinia, Vermentino 2001 Villa Solais, £7.55, for a large glass, £18.00 a bottle. It was crisp and fruity with a hint of almond essence. Very drinkable.

To follow there were five fish main course choices including fillets of monkfish with a saffron sauce, tomato, olive oil and a touch of garlic served on a bed of green and white Swiss chard, £14.60, and five meats choices, which included oven baked half rack of lamb served with semolina pudding and pan fried artichoke, £15.20, and pan fried veal escalope with mushroom and Marsala wine blended with goats cheese, £14.60. We decided upon the grilled calf's liver with sage mash potatoes, £13.65 and the grilled king prawns flavoured with herbs on a nest of leeks, carrots and courgette julienne, £17.30. My guest's calf's liver arrived with an attractive lattice seared finish which he said gave a slight bite to the liver's edge. It was a generous helping, tender and melting in the mouth, the sauce having slight sherry and plum overtones whilst the grainy mash mingled beautifully with the flavours. He was washing it all down with a glass of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2000, £4.55 per glass, £16.75 a bottle. This was a rich red with good acidity, with an aged smell, depth and a long finish. My king prawns (seven in all), were very fresh and meaty tasting, served with a summery nest of julienne of vegetables. They made a light and delicious choice. The fact that every wine on the list was available by the glass was such a refreshing change to the limited amount offered by most others. I was now drinking a Gavi Di Gavi 2001, £7.45 per glass, £27.00 a bottle. This was light and buttery, an excellent accompaniment to the king prawns. A side order of sauteed spinach in butter, £2.65, was the perfect accompaniment.

By this stage of the evening I am normally struggling to find room for anything more to eat - however due to the lightness of the cooking I definitely had room for pudding. We shared a tiramisu, £ 5.00 and a chocolate mousse, £ 4.50. All the other puddings were priced similarly. The tiramisu was cleverly served with the image of a knife and fork etched out in cocoa powder on the plate. The sponge cake was soaked in patches with alcohol, the coffee taste subtly mingling into the flavours, whilst the cool cream cut through the sweetness. The chocolate mousse was not too rich, served in a cup with shafts of chocolate, whilst underneath there was a lattice work of caramel and nuts and a dash of alcohol. Superb! We finished our evening's feasting with a warming glass of Vin Santo 1996, Castgello Di Brolio, £5.05 per glass. Did you know that this dessert wine is so called as its bottling only takes place during Holy Week before Easter.

Our bill, at around £95 for two means that a visit to Getti maybe a bit of a treat. However, we did hammer the menu a bit, and you could experience an equally pleasurable evening with loads of Italian charm and warm hospitality for rather less outlay. Either way we think you won't be disappointed.

Louise Elgin, July 2003

Getti  - 42 Marylebone High Street London W1 Tel: 020 7486-3753

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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