Novikov Italian, Mayfair

The blurb

Owned by Russia’s most famous restaurateur, Arkdy Novikov, Novikov Restaurant is an upmarket eaterie, in the affluent area of Mayfair, London. Home to two very contrasting restaurants, one Asian and the other Italian, there’s plenty to choose from with big menus that boast only the freshest ingredients. We dined at the Italian side on this occasion, greeted by staff all in masks, and were taken to our table, which was clearly freshly cleaned. Our waiter for the evening also wore a mask, something you get used to strangely quickly.

The style

The restaurant almost provokes the feeling of being outside, with many large piazza-style trees dotted around it and plants on the tables, including fresh herbs. The kitchen is open, with many of the ingredients piled high in decoration, including seafood, hanging meats and vegetables. Tablecloths are crisp white, set simply with a side plate (for dipping your bread and olive oil), water glasses, and cutlery. Hanging from the ceiling is a large, round candle feature and walls are decorated with either mirrors, black and white stripes or painted plain white. It is spacious, open, yet not offensive.

The crowd

Situated in one of London’s wealthiest areas for eating, Novikov attracts the rich and famous, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a celebrity dining next to you. Client entertaining and business meetings are also a regular occurrence, and with a menu featuring fresh black truffle, it’s very much a place to go for a celebratory meal or a treat. The dress code is smart casual, some are in suits and dresses, others a clean pair of trainers and jeans, so while it may be one of London’s ‘boujiest’ restaurants, I didn’t feel out of place in my jeans, white top and sandals.

The food

In true Italian style, a basket of bread, olive oil and salt were brought to our table straight away, which we enjoyed with a delicious (though strong) cocktail – a Negroni.

We then asked the waiter for his recommendations, of which black truffle featured highly, as it was in season. Starting with something slightly lighter, we shared a seafood salad of the sweetest red prawns, perfectly cooked scallops, squid and octopus, as well as a seabass carpaccio; so fresh and light, seasoned with just a touch of citrus.

Then the truffle feast began: A Fior di latte & soft cheese pizza, which came with generous shavings of truffle on top, followed by the ‘must-try’ truffle pasta. While I admit £65 for a pizza is rather steep, it really did surpass my expectations; perfectly crisp base, yet a doughy crust, creamy cheese and rich truffle. I’d go back again just to eat it – though I probably wouldn’t share this time. We enjoyed all of this with a bottle of white wine, which was selected for us by the restaurant’s sommelier.

To finish, we shared the Rocher XL Hazelnut & Gianduija mousse (as it sounds, it’s just like a giant Ferrero Rocher). A hard chocolate and hazelnut shell encases soft hazelnut mousse. For me, it’s everything I need in a dessert, chocolatey, creamy and crunchy. Our second sweet was a lot lighter, with flavours of matcha going through a crème brûlée style dish, accompanied by a passionfruit ice cream. It was nice, palate-cleansing, but there’s really no competing with the Rocher XL.

The verdict

What sets Novikov apart from other restaurants of a similar profile is that, while the menu may be slightly pricey, it’s worth it; portions are generous, flavours are well balanced and the staff are incredibly welcoming. The menu is also big enough that if you want Italian classics, you can, but if you’d like to venture slightly more rogue, the option is also available.

The details

50A Berkeley StreetMayfair, London, W1J 8HA;; +44 (0) 207 399 4330


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