Italian restaurant Acciuga on the Holland Park side of High Street Kensington in London is a true family affair.
Chef Guglielmo Arnulfo is cooking in the kitchen, his father Graziano is the chief sommelier and supervises service, while Guglielmo’s mother Stella greets the guests and helps to serve the food.
Chef Guglielmo opened Acciuga (anchovy in Italian) in 2013 and great reviews followed with A.A. Gill declaring that ‘it was the best carbonara’ he had ever tasted in England.
But cooking, owning and running a restaurant is no easy matter and so his parents left their lives in Genoa and moved to London to assist their son. They imported a typical Italian concept with them – a mix between fine dining and trattoria, or a fine dining restaurant run by a family.
Guglielmo is only in his mid-twenties and trained as a lawyer before deciding that cooking is his true passion. Prior to opening Acciuga, he worked at Michelin stared The Cook in Genoa and Da Claudio in Bergeggi, near Savona.
The cuisine at Acciuga is inspired by the traditional recipes from Liguria, Piedmont and Tuscany, but prepared with a modern twist. The veal shank, for example, is served with saffron risotto sorbetto.
My guest and I settle down at the table in front of the restaurant right by the window that’s perfect for people watching.
Acciuga is a neighbourhood restaurant – the regulars come and go warmly greeted by Graziano. He gives a special attention to an elderly lady who has just lost her husband, also a regular here.
We tuck in to delicacies including an interesting take on the Olivier salad or Insalata Russa (the boiled egg is served whole), Vittello Tonnato, seafood risotto and a truly delicious Salmon carbonara Bucatini with red caviar.
Braised cross-cut veal shank with saffron risotto sorbetto is definitely an interesting choice that my friend has made for his main dish while I go for a safer choice of monkfish in a basil crust with caprino cheese sauce. The food is good and a right mix between fine dining and home cooking.
If Guglielmo is the master in the kitchen, his father is Graziano is the ruler of the restaurant upstairs. We taste Arnulfo Senior’s chosen wines and listen to the family stories he tells and feel almost part of their lives.
Prices: Starters are priced at £10, Primi £15, Secondi £20 and Desserts £8.
Bon Vivant’s members who dine at Acciuga will receive a complimentary glass of wine on arrival.