Around the corner from London’s busy Sloane Square lies the calming oasis of Pimlico Road, a tranquil path of art galleries, designer upholsterers and al fresco cafés. Within this cultural haven stands the family-run, Tuscan restaurant Tinello, founded by brothers Federico and Max Sali, who honed their skills whilst working at the critically acclaimed Locanda Locatelli.
The duo’s conviviality is endearing, with manager and sommelier Max making an appearance on his day off to greet a customer, and chef Federico taking time out from the kitchen to discuss his menu of rustic dishes with a refined edge, made using seasonal produce sourced from Tuscany and all over Italy.
With exposed brickwork, low-hanging copper light fixtures and shaded bulbs, the restaurant is designed to recreate the relaxed ethos of a Tuscan tinello – a little room flanking the kitchen, used for the informal entertaining of family and friends. Mirrored tiles, dark wooden flooring and matching furniture add the sophistication required to attract locals without alienating Italians; both groups were there in abundance during our lunchtime visit.
Upon being seated, appetisers of assorted Breads, Pickled Vegetables and Olive Oil were placed at the table and we relished the bite of acidic courgettes, cauliflower and red peppers against fresh bread and peppery oil.
The menu is refreshed every three to five weeks, offering a tantalising selection of meat, fish and pasta, traditional antipasti and desserts. Following Federico’s advice, we began with “small plates”, the Tuscans’ customary style of eating based upon sharing many dishes.
Traditional Tuscan Chicken Liver “Crostini” proved exquisite, with a creamy, yet coarse, liver parfait topped with earthy truffle shavings on thick toast. Fried Courgettes in a well seasoned batter and warm Pappa al Pomodoro, a “peasant dish” with the look of a stew, yet all the flavours of a bruschetta, were both outstanding. Queen Scallops, Sundried Tomato Crust had a smoky, tangy crumb while dry-cured Speck from Trentino Alto Adige was mild and aromatic compared to the stronger Tuscan Ham and Honey Melon – a perfect combination of salty and sweet.
Mains of Char Grilled Sea Bream, Tomato, Rocket and Avocado Salad and Pan Fried Beef “Bavette”, Sprouting Broccoli and Roasted Red Peppers were delicious. The flavoursome meat and vegetables were drizzled with a rich jus and the delicate fish with crispy skin was wonderfully fresh, although the bed of salad would have been better served separately.
A dessert of Tiramisu, made with mascarpone, coffee-soaked sponge and crumbled cantucci biscuits, was light and scrumptious, as was a Selection of Sorbets and Ice Creams – particularly pistachio and chocolate gelati and sorbets of peach and zingy lemon.
Unsurprisingly, the wine list was superb, but we opted instead for Pago Apple Juice from Italy, which evoked nostalgia for European holidays. Rounding off our meal with a smooth Caffè e Latte and a robust Espresso Ristretto, we left feeling stuffed, impressed and convinced that the cuisine served at Tinello is as priceless as the artworks found in neighbouring stores.
Photos: Monika Jørgesen
To book a table at Tinello, 87 Pimlico Rd, London SW1W 8PH, call 020 7730 3663 or visit here.