“We are a neighbourhood restaurant – the majority of our clients are regulars who live in the area,” the restaurant manager Graziano says as we sit down for dinner at Toto’s restaurant in Knightsbridge.
As if to prove his point, an elderly gentleman and a small dog arrive and are allowed to settle at a table near us. I’m impressed by this as pets are rarely permitted in the dining areas of gastropubs or bars, let alone a fine dining restaurant.
“There’s another, very big dog at the bar,” our waiter emphasises their animal friendly policy.
Named after the legendary Italian clown, Toto’s opened last year after a multimillion-pound refurbishment of a listed building on Walton Street that was previously used as an artist’s studio and alleged to have once been the home of Winston Churchill’s aunt.
At the centre of the restaurant is a beautiful heritage-listed oak fireplace. Original vaulted circular windows open to the courtyard where in warmer months there’s table service until 6.30pm.
The rest of the interior is elegant and modern with copper, bronze and black colours and oak parquet flooring, marble finishes and jali-style screens.
Graziano, the restaurant manager, is on a mission to introduce my guest and I to the best Italian delicacies at Toto’s and so the array of dishes start arriving at our table.
The buratta with fresh sun dried tomatoes (£9.95) is creamy and delicious, beef carpaccio with black truffle (£18.95) is good and my guest is mostly impressed with the Vitello tonnato or Veal Tonne (£14.50).
We are told that the Head Chef Stefano Stecca, formerly of Novikov, Zafferno and Brunello at the Baglioni hotel, is especially good at pasta and risotto dishes.
Indeed, the tasting selection Graziano sends to our table is the highlight of my dinner. Tagliolini with lobster, sweet chilli and cherry tomatoes (£19.50) and squid in risotto with parmesan (£14.95) are amazing and the ravioli with ricotta & spinach, sage and butter is very good too.
We have also had some freshly baked, warm and very tasty bread with olive oil (£2.75), so it’s no wonder that after all of the pasta, I’m very full and can’t truly appreciate my main course of the mix grilled seafood platter (£29.95).
My guest who’s gone slightly easier on the pasta and the bread enjoys her Veal Milanese (£24.75).
Gavi di Gavi DOCG, Villa Sparina 2013 (£9) and Barbera D’Alba DOC, Piani, Pellisero 2010 (£7) wines help our digestion and we decide to order Crème Brûlée with orange and ginger (£7.95) for dessert. It comes cold and so disappoints us a little.
The bar at Toto’s is good not only for dog watching, but also offers a decent drinks’ menu and a selection of 20 cigars that can be smoked in the courtyard.
On our way out we meet head chef Stefano who tells us about his 15 or so years in London and the trips back to his native town of Rimini where some of the traditional Italian recipes come from.
Toto’s truly is a neighbourhood restaurant and with that neighbourhood being Knightsbridge, you can expect a certain level of service and quality (and prices)!
Vilma was invited to try Toto’s – you can read our editorial policy here.