Sale e Pepe, Knightsbridge

To mark 50 successful years of service, Sale e Pepe – which I later learn is something of an institution – has recently treated itself to a birthday glow-up. The Knightsbridge eatery (which boasts a glittering past… having once been the regular stomping ground of Rod Stewart, Sir Roger Moore and Priscilla Presley) has drawn inspiration for its new design from it’s wild youth.

“The menu continues to offer Sale e Pepe’s much-loved classics, such as the Vitello Alla Milanese and the Linguine Vongole e Bottarga in addition to new ‘famiglia’ style dishes such as the Tagliatelle Al Caviale Reale and the Branzino Al Sale, for two, and a full Crudo section with a range of Tatare’s, Caparccio’s and more.”

The Style

The newly-refurbished restaurant is situated in a cosy, low-ceilinged spot on the ground floor of a handsome Knightsbridge property. Crisp, red canopies lure you in from the pavement and once inside the space is elegant and formal. ‘Proper table cloths!’ exclaims my dad – my plus one – who is both ‘sucker for’ and ‘deliverer’ of old-style charm. The walls are painted in a deep navy with fun pops of pastel and brightly coloured artwork that zing against the moody blue.

The bar is delightfully flashy, there’s a fun neon, ‘Sale e Pepe’ sign and cheesy Italian pop blares out across the mirrored bar. The bathroom walls are bathed in rich magenta and adorned with cheeky 60s Campari ads. It’s fun, rich, naughty and a little trashy (in a way that only the Italians can pull off). It’s a party scene from a Sorrentino movie, it’s Baz Luhrmann’s Verona, it’s a teensy bit ‘Burlusconi-bunga-bunga’.

The Food

Dad begins with the Sliced Prawns – they’re very fresh but quite salty. I order the Calamari Fritti, which comes with a very tasty aioli. For the main course, I opt for the popular millennial crowd-pleaser, Cacio e Pepe. It’s a hit – linguine is generously doused in an unctuous cheesy sauce spiked with black pepper. I assuage my guilt with a side of grilled asparagus. Dad is thrilled with his Medium Rare Veal Steak and side order of perfectly cooked chips.

For dessert, I generously insist he has the Tiramisu – even though I can’t even try it (because I’m pregnant, raw egg!). I watch longingly from the sidelines and console my jealous heat with a perfectly-formed affogato.

To finish, Dad is brought a glass and (because he’s clearly worked his old style charm on the staff) a whole bottle of limoncello. I insist that they take it away before we embarrass ourselves.

The Crowd

We visit on a Wednesday lunchtime and the place is heaving. Ladies who lunch make light work of multiple bottles of Grechetto and millennial Euro-elite in Balenciaga trainers casually lay down a couple of hundred for a lunch in which they scarcely look up from their phones.

In a Nutshell

Sale e Pepe is great fun and Elisa who looks after us, utterly charming. This is Knightsbridge, so naturally… it’s not cheap, but the food is tasty, it feels luxurious and we leave safe in the knowledge that we’ve had a really good time.

The Details

9-15 Pavilion Rd, London SW1X 0HD

Restaurants |