Review – Bar8 at Gastrovino – Chelsea, London
Halfway down the King’s Road in Chelsea is a fabulous Italian restaurant – Bar8 at Gastrovino. With bare brick walls, warm timbers and big store front windows to sit and watch the locals glide by in their posh cars, this place is gorgeous. It reminds me of afternoons spent lazily enjoying very long lunches on the Italian piazzas, if only the weather would play ball.
Making the most of seasonal produce and with a real flair for reinventing traditional dishes is head chef Andrea Pesenti, previously of Mele and Pere in Soho. With a selection of sharing boards and small plates there is a good variety of dishes to choose from. There is a weekly rotating ‘wine-by-the-glass’ list (as well as by the bottle) and the service is authentically Italian, read ‘friendly and welcoming’.
After starting with the delicious in house breads and tapas portions of Gaeta olives, Mortadella cubes, Friggitelli peppers (I never did get the hot one) et al, it was time to start exploring the menu. First up octopus, wild garlic, black olives and Lilliput capers. A true rustic dish some people may be put off by the ‘double suckers’ but don’t be, it was perfectly cooked, soft to the bite and full of flavour.
Making the most of the new season spring peas, our next dish was truffle ricotta with Apulian sweet peas finished with the pea shoots. The truffle elevated this simple, yet cleverly designed dish to another level.
Beetroot has to be one of my favourite vegetables so our next plate was sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Roasted beetroots with salsa verde & stracciatella creamy cheese. The beetroot was great but I can really recommend this cheese, a first for me, so creamy and soft, I nearly needed a spoon. I will certainly look forward to having it again.
Our last savoury dish was the Kuop, a plate of deep-fried calamari, prawns & zucchini with a sec vermouth mayonnaise. This has proved to be the most popular dish with locals and I can understand why. Also the secret-recipe seasoning, known only to chef and one other, provided a nice citrus/salty tang to accentuate the delicious seafood.
For dessert we plumped for the dark chocolate cigar with Bronte pistachio. It looked so clever on the plate it was a shame to crack it open. Although it was dark chocolate and the cigar was filled to the brim, it was light and not too substantial. Paired with a nice espresso (and a frozen glass of limoncello) it was a perfect end to a mouth-watering meal.
When I posted photos of my visit on my social media accounts there were a lot of comments from followers and foodies alike who had been here too. They all agreed it is a great find and is assuredly worth a trip down the King’s Rd.
Just before I left I also went downstairs to the basement bar. An intimate space with separate seating areas to suit, whether you want to relax in a Chesterfield or have after work drinks in one of the booths. As well as a great range of cocktails put together by co-owner Giuseppe Gallo and award-winning mixologist Daniele Gentili, there are also a variety of Italian spirits available which can only be found here – Cynar 70Proof, Braulio Riserva, Martini Riserva Vermouth Di Torino and Americano Gancia to name a few. I absolutely enjoyed my first visit here from beginning to end and left a very full but happy gastronaut looking forward to my next great find.