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Mosaico, Albemarle Street, London W1

Mosaico is in Albemarle Street, off Piccadilly, opposite Brown's Hotel. It is an excellent example of a stylish restaurant serving modern Italian style dishes. Chef Matteo Mistrorio comes from the Veneto,  Vincenza to be more precise, and he draws on his heritage of North Eastern Italian cuisine as the basis for his menu, but he is also eclectic, ranging further within Italy itself, as well as importing ideas from other chefs like the inspirational Heston Blumenthal.

The decor is quietly understated, reminding me of a salon in a 1930s luxury liner. The waiting staff flitted up and down noiselessly but purposefully under the professional eye of manager Marco Fanoni who ensures that service is both friendly and slick. The dining room was completely full when we went for a weekday lunch, and everything went like clockwork, a state of affairs that clearly ensures that regular customers keep coming back.

There are some interesting exotica on the antipasti list, including snails with bacon and fresh chestnuts, frogs legs in truffle oil and octopus terrine. My guest began with some delicious 2 year old Parma Ham with fresh pears, a simple but effective lunchtime starter, while I had the marinated salmon, cured with an idea from Heston, in the form of a hint of liquorice, which worked really well. Details like the garnish of finely sliced fresh artichokes were thoughtfully applied, and the delicious home made breads certainly merited a mention.

There's a particularly good selection of primi piatti - mostly freshly made pasta dishes, but we shared a special of the day, a risotto made with smoked eel. This was intensely flavoured and creamy and the rice was as perfect as you can get it. For his main course my friend had what was essentially fritto misto mare which was good but hardly exceptional, while I had chosen a serious offal feast - grilled calve's liver and veal kidneys. The liver wasn't cooked in the usual mimsy thin slices, but came as a substantial lobe, while the delicious kidneys were generously dressed with shavings of truffle.

Puddings like baked apple with hazelnut sauce or warm chocolate souffle had to rejected as we were pretty full by now. Somehow we managed to share a creamy vanilla and avocado "mousse", a light fresh dessert, but not a mousse, (no bubbles and not set!). There's an interesting selection of wines, a list I'd like to explore further at dinner rather than in the middle of the day. There's also good daily lunch menu, which seemed to be going down well with all the business customers. Our a la carte lunch was a great success and I have no hesitation in recommending Mosaico to our readers.

A la carte prices
Antipasti £11- £13; Primi Piatti £8-£13; Meat and Fish £19-£23; Desserts £6-£9, Cheese £11

Clifford Mould January 2006

Mosaico 13 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HJ
T: 020 7409 1011

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