Read our review of Italian restaurant Osteria Romana in Knightsbridge, London
Osteria Romana in a nutshell
Authentic Roman cooking in an intimate setting in Knightsbridge
Chef Carmelo Carnevale heads the kitchen at Osteria Romana, though much of the culinary influence also comes from owner Andrea Reitano (whose previous projects included Assunta Madre and Caffee Rei in Mayfair) – he studied in Rome and has a Roman grandmother. (Here’s our foodie guide to Rome if you’re planning a trip).
What’s the vibe like?
Osteria Romana strikes a surprisingly low-key note considering its upscale location, right next to Hyde Park and a stone’s throw from the Bulgari Hotel.
A small, softly lit space, the décor keeps it simple with plain wooden flooring and furniture, earth-hued walls and little copper lamps that shine inviting pools of light over each table. Pots of vivid green basil adorn each table and a wall-to-wall wine rack provides a focal point at one end of the room. The effect is intimate, unpretentious but still tastefully sleek – it is Knightsbridge, after all.
Osteria Romana’s intimate interior
How does the menu work?
The structure of the menu at Osteria Romana is classically Italian, divided into antipasti, pasta and soups, and main courses, plus dessert. Order all four courses for a true Italian feast, though as portions are generous (particularly the pasta), just one would do if you’re after something lighter. Prices, while not low, are still reasonable for this expensive part of London.
Dishes on offer maintain a strictly Roman focus – ingredients like salt cod, pecorino, artichokes and broad beans abound, and the menu is full of classics native to the Eternal City, from cacio e pepe (here’s Padella’s famous recipe) and bucatini amatriciana to Roman-style tripe and oxtail stew.
The menu is liberally sprinkled with classic Roman ingredients, like salt cod
Which dishes should we order at Osteria Romana?
Four fat, handmade gnocchi were the stars of our antipasti. Pleasingly fluffy, they came drizzled with a decadent, moreish black truffle and pecorino sauce. Well-made rice croquettes, with a crisp exterior and meaty ragu filling, were complemented by a tangy tomato velouté.
Spaghetti carbonara, that iconic Roman dish, was note perfect, with a silky properly emulsified sauce. Tonnarelli with artichokes and red prawns combined juicy crustacean with dried shards of artichokes and a bisque-like sauce. Lamb chops – served with ultra-smooth mashed potatoes and crispy leeks – were pink, tender and deeply flavoured.
Which dishes should we miss?
There were no real misfires but the saltimbocca – veal wrapped in parma ham with sage – was a little underwhelming, the meat slightly chewy and the parma ham a little measly in quantity. Top marks for the rich marsala sauce, though.
What’s dessert like?
Desserts are simple and straightforward – from tiramisu to cherry and ricotta tart. Our espressos came with large jars of biscotti and almond cookies that we were invited to help ourselves from.
What are the drinks like?
The concise wine list keeps it almost entirely Italian, of course. We tried a subtly smoky sangiovese and montepulciano blend, and a fruity ripasso. Here are our favourite Italian wines to try from our wine expert.
What else should we know?
Service is very good: friendly and knowledgeable general manager Diego made us feel like we were being really looked after.
Photographs by Lucy Richards
Written by Hannah Guinness