UK Restaurant and Hotel Reviews

London Hotels
Family Restaurants
Press Contact

Signor Zilli - a stylish but hospitable Soho dining room

Aldo Zilli has made quite a name for himself, as a chef, media person, author, TV presenter and party goer. Above all, he is a host, a dispenser of hospitality. OK, so you pay (not unreasonably) to eat in one of his restaurants, but somehow you feel more as though you were in the home of an ebullient and entertaining Italian family. Perhaps this is why Aldo's next book is to be called Aldo's Italian Food for Friends. This is why Aldo cooks: "I just love being with people and looking after them ... I take great pleasure in entertaining and cooking for friends", he enthuses. If Aldo is around when you are eating in one of his restaurants, you have only to meet him once and I promise you will count yourself one of that happy band of Aldo's Amici. I suppose he's one of those very successful chefs that cook themselves out of the kitchen. Never mind, he is a good general, and his lieutenants know their jobs. The Signor Zilli operation is ably led by Andy Campbell who helped design the new menu, plus there's Sardinian born Mario Porcheddu, but of course Aldo continues to inspire, also keeping a close watch on quality.

The dining room at Signor Zilli is intimate, with a clever blend of formal luxury - starchy buttermilk napery, marble floors and "capriccio" style classical Italian mural panels. In spite of this the atmosphere contrives to be very friendly, due I am sure to the efforts of Piero and his team. When we visited on an extremely busy Monday evening, Aldo himself was present only in the form of his alter ego - one of those priapic Italian pepper grinders.

On each table was a bottle of Rosso Conero 1996 from Monte Schiavo. This was the promo wine of the week, and at £15.50 a bottle, it was a very pleasing quaff. You certainly get excellent value for your one pound cover charge: olive oil with sun dried tomato puree, lovely breads to dip, and a little round toast covered with a garlic, tomato and pepper salad.

We began with three starters because I insisted on trying some pasta. The Capellini were filigree threads covered with a lovely pomodoro sauce; fresh spring vegetables gave the dish colour and texture, (£6.90). We particularly enjoyed a salad of buffalo mozzarella (£6.90) with wild rocket, grilled peppers and semi-dried tomatoes. The cheese was fresh and creamy, and the salad was vividly coloured - whoever arranged it has a real eye for food. Calamari Fritto were about as good as deep fried squid rings get (£7.50), but the accompanying cauliflower (coated in a delectable tempura) rather outshone the main ingredient where flavour was concerned, as did the lemon mayonnaise with large, juicy capers.

My companion chose a main course from the three special dishes of the day: lamb cutlets (œ13.50) of the finest quality had been perfectly grilled, served with another crisp salad coated with the most delectable balsamic dressing imaginable. I had wild boar (œ14.00) that had been slow cooked in Barolo; I expected it to be rather darker and gamier, but the cubes of meat were tender and came on a bed of light tagliatelle ribbons in a lovely sauce made from wild mushrooms and the Barolo reduction. A side plate of rosemary roasted potatoes, mange touts and spinach completed the picture.

Puddings (£4.00) are wonderfully traditional: the zabaglione was light and tangy, with a generous slug of marsala at the bottom. Tiramisu and Panna Cotta with fruit looked good if you have the space left! If you haven't, but still hanker after something sweet to round off the meal, then I recommend a glass of Vin Santo with Cantuccini biscuits to go dipping with, mmm!!

After the Rosso Conero, we needed just a bit more red wine, so I was glad to see one of those useful half litre bottles of Bersano Barolo 1993, for £12.90. House wines start at £9.50, or £11.90 for de luxe house wines. Then the prices go up rapidly through the teens to £26 for a Barolo, don't ask what year or what maker, the list doesn't say. If I'm going to pay £36 for an Amarone della Valpolicella, (one of my favourite Italian wines) I'd like to know the vintage and the maker. Thus my only criticism of the restaurant is the very perfunctory wine list. In an establishment of this class, one should be told more than "Sancerre £19.00" or "Chablis 1er Cru £26.00", let alone "White Australian Chardonnay £26.00"!

Never mind, the service is so good, I'm sure they'd gladly bring all the bottles to your table for you to peruse if the wine list leaves you in the dark. I'm told the food is very good next door in the rather more down to earth Zilli Bar.

The foodie illustrations are from Aldo's new book Italian Food for Friends, published by Metro Books and due out early May 1998.

Signor Zilli, 41 Dean Street, Soho W1. Tel: 020 7734 3924

* Dine Online's favourite Fish Restaurant of 1997 was
Zilli Fish, 36 Brewer Street, Soho W1, Tel: 020 7734 8649


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

Your comments please!

Email us your suggestions, reviews, comments.

We very much want to hear your comments on restaurants you have visited, wines you have tried. Maybe you disagree with us, or perhaps you want to recommend a place we haven't yet covered. Email us at with all your suggestions, reviews, comments.

Back to Dine Online Home Page

Copyright © 2007 MidasCode Ltd

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

MidasCode Ltd
5 & 6 The Azure Suites, Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, W Sussex BN16 3DA
Tel: 01903 779538 International: +44 1903 779538 - Fax: 01903 856683 – Mobile: 07860 899235 – International +44 7860 899235

Want your Restaurant Reviewed? Send requests to

Registerd Office: Highland House, Mayflower Close, Chandlersford, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO53 4AR - Company No 05916096

Grape Seed Extract | Collecting Debt | Food Gadgets