'It felt like a winter break to the Italian countryside'


Mon–Sat 12pm–3pm and 6.30pm–11pm, Sun 12pm–3pm

The blurb

It may be a clichéd term, but ‘authentic’ truly is the best way to describe Vicino. The name translates from Italian as ‘neighbouring,’ and this pretty much sums up the vibe that this charming restaurant off the corner of Parsons Green emanates.

It first opened in 1987 and has been designed to appear no different to a rustic restaurant down the tiny cobbled streets of Tuscany. With an interior and amiability that reminded me of my beloved grandparents and their Italian roots, Vicino was a delicious, warm and surprisingly affordable treat.

The style

Leafy plants adorn the brick facade and homely Italian decor can be found throughout the restaurant. A soft mustard yellow taken from a classic Tuscan colour palette washes walls filled with dried flowers, traditional painted plates, posters, hanging garlic and shelves lined with jars of lemons, wine bottles and boxes of Peroni.

It felt like a winter break to the Italian countryside, the kitchen opening out into the cosy but spacious eating space and a conservatory sitting at the front of the building that opens up in the summer months.

The crowd

It was a Monday evening so was quiet, with just a handful of other parties dining at the same time as us. This included a young family celebrating a birthday (accompanied by an abrupt happy birthday song—Italian style—booming out of the restaurant’s speakers when the cake was presented) and a few other diners who were quieter groups or couples. The mood was casual but it was easy to picture the restaurant as a suitable venue for a fancier event.

The food

It is clear that Marco Moscoloni, head chef since 2011, is passionate not only about his cooking methods but also about sourcing produce with the finest flavour. The menu consists of several foods that are traditionally served uncooked, and it’s evident that time has been taken to find the best ingredients that London has to offer.

For a while I’ve wanted to try Arancini, but my soft spot for bruschetta has always overtaken. So I opted for the Arancini Siciliani (£7.50), and was greeted with two deep fried rice and mozzarella balls served with arrabbiata sauce, one stuffed with mushroom (daring of me—I usually despise mushroom), the other with roast pepper olives. My friend picked the Capesante Gratinate (£9.50), roast scallops with melted cheese and crisp breadcrumbs gorgeously presented on three shells.

For the main I couldn’t refuse the lobster special: Linguine con Aragosta, Vino Bianco, Aglio e Peperoncino (£21.50 for half a lobster, £32.50 for a whole). The lobster is known for being brought in fresh daily from Billingsgate market, and is served with linguine in a white wine sauce with garlic, olive oil and chilli. Colourful, juicy and intense. I may have left the chillies but still enjoyed the flavour; the intensity of the pasta was aptly balanced by the sweetness of the lobster. My friend’s dish, Pappardelle Con Stracetti di Vitello (£12), consisted of pasta with veal, fontina cheese and a rosemary sauce topped with onions, carrots and celery, and was rich and oily and flavoursome.

Dessert called for the Chocolate & Passionfruit Cheesecake (£5.50), which was prettily presented with strawberries, blueberries and a tiny physalis. Once again the strong flavours of the tangy curd were balanced out by the white chocolate cheesecake. Dense but delicious.

The drink

There was no extensive list of crafty speciality cocktails that many restaurants showcase nowadays, but instead a modest range including the classic Bellini (£7.50) and Italian treat Limoncello Mojito (£6.50). The simple but sweet Pinot Grigio blush (£5 a glass, £20 a bottle) went down a treat with my food choices.

In a nutshell

It may be Italian, but do not expect to find pizza on the menu. This is a non-commercial traditional Italian restaurant to the core, a treat in a suburban corner of the capital. Prices are cheaper than they taste, and with the attentive and friendly all-Italian staff this is certainly a place for neighbours in Fulham to visit on the regular.

You won over the little Italian corner of my heart and beyond, Vicino.

The details:

Vicino, 189 New King’s Rd, Fulham, London SW6 4SW; 020 7736 1145; office@vicinorestaurant.comwww.vicinorestaurant.com

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