Earlier this year, a new fine dining Italian restaurant opened its doors in South West London, on the affluent Fulham Road, Chelsea. L’Artigiano, which means, ‘the artisan’ in Italian, serves creative interpretations of the country’s classic dishes, using fresh seasonal ingredients. Executive Chef, Ignacio Ruggiero, has brought his heritage from Italy and Venezuela, along with his experience working in Michelin-starred restaurants together, to create a sophisticated menu that surprises and delights with flavour, colour and exceptional culinary techniques. “My philosophy is simple: I use the best possible ingredients to create dishes that touch the emotions and excite the palate.”
Founded by passionate restaurateur, Leandro Lengo, from Puglia, L’Artigiano is actually the third fine dining restaurant he has opened. After establishing his first in Old Street, London, in 2015, followed by another in Mexico, Lengo is now back in the city to continue his dream of bringing a traditional Italian experience to London – and L’Artigiano very much fulfils this.
The restaurant has a soft monochrome colour scheme, walls are painted white and there’s a black brick wall feature in the main dining area. Tables are covered in crisp white table clothes, with silver lamps on each one, and tall standing wine racks with vintage bottles stand in the corners. If you look up, the ceiling is open, and you can just see chef Ruggiero at work on the upper floor. Hanging from this alcove are long wooden beams, lined with candles and hanging ivy, which only adds to the relaxed ambiance of the restaurant.
I have no doubt that L’Artigiano will soon be a neighbourhood favourite, a go-to for families, couples and even local businesses who want to treat themselves to a lunch out or show or the local delights to clients. However, on the day I visited, a chilly Thursday evening in November, there were just two other tables. Having opened during one of the biggest pandemic’s the world’s seen, this wasn’t unexpected, but Longo says he’s confident there will always be a space for fine dining in London and that he is excited for what the future holds.
Diners can choose from a three-course set menu, the à la carte menu, or an eight-course tasting menu. While the eight-course tasting menu was incredibly tempting, we decided to dine from the à la carte. In true Italian style, we were brought a box of fresh bread and butter, topped with a little salt, to nibble on while we selected our food, this was then followed by a light amuse-bouche. On recommendation from the head waiter, we had the Isalata di Mare, a seafood salad of langoustine, orange caviar, clams, sea herbs, tonnata sauce, oyster mayonnaise, burrata and a mojito’s sphere – the dish was an example of pure culinary skill and the flavours were fresh and delicious. Alongside this, we also had the Tonno Sashimi Vitellato con Mayonese Affumicata, another beautiful plate of veal, fresh sashimi tuna, olive crumble, smoked mayonnaise, and capers. I was surprised by how well the meat and fish complemented each other, and enjoyed the texture of the olive crumble against the tender meats. For our main courses, we chose one from ‘Primi’, the Risotto alla Cipolla, Ricci di Mare, Criollo Cacao, and another from ‘Secondi’, Faraona, Royal di Pastinaca, Cotto in tre Servizi. The dishes were ever as extravagant as their names: The risotto had a generous dusting of cacao over the top, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Alone, the risotto was quite sweet but against the bitterness of the chocolate the flavours balanced out in a way that had me scraping the plate clean. The ‘Faraona’, which means guinea-fowl, was one of the most colourful dishes I’ve ever eaten. Different cuts of the slow-cooked meat were served with royal parsnips and crispy carrot, and then finished with naturally coloured breadcrumbs in bright pink, green and yellow – this was actually my partner’s dish but I made sure I tasted every element and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a little bit of food envy. To finish, we were given a selection of the chef’s favourite desserts, consisting of a pre-dessert of light chocolate mousse with a drizzle of freshly made salted caramel sauce, as well as a wafer cigar, filled with coconut cream and served with a passion fruit ice cream, and a chocolate dessert consisting of a mousse, ice cream, crumble, chocolate-filled sphere and chocolate leaf. While the two main desserts were another showcase of Ruggiero’s incredible skill, the pre-dessert was actually our favourite, not too sweet, smooth, creamy and had us wanting more. We enjoyed our meal with a bottle of rose, selected by the sommelier. Not my usual go-to for a wine but I wasn’t disappointed, it worked perfectly with the different flavours of our meal.
In a nutshell
L’Artigiano goes against the norm of Italian dining in the most wonderful, creative and unexpected way. It’s a mile ahead of the other Italian eateries in the city, who serve the typical pizza and pasta dishes. Though it’s a fine dining restaurant, the variety of menus makes it accessible for many. From the three-course menu to the Chef’s Table Experience, where diners can actually enjoy their meal sitting in the bustling kitchen, watching their dishes prepared right before them, L’Artigiano has thought of everything, for everyone. While restaurants are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, L’Artigiano also offers a takeaway menu, showcasing some of Ruggiero’s best dishes.
343 Fulham Road, London,
0203 972 9848