Words by Nick Gibbens, LLM Editor-in-Chief
The West End of London is all about theatrics, with some of the biggest and most iconic venues lining its streets and attracting theatregoers from around the world who come in search of a night of excitement and drama, all washed down with a good dose of London’s signature style and sophistication.
From the London Palladium to the Coliseum, popular shows like Wicked, Hairspray and The Lion King are regular features, with calendars packed and tickets sold out well in advance. Suffice it to say that the West End is one of London’s most sought-after locations, and now, thanks to a prestigious new opening by acclaimed Italian restaurateur Roberto Costa, the theatrics on offer have even made their way onto the luxury dining scene.
Brand new dining concept ‘Il Teatro della Carne’ – which translates as ‘The Butchery Theatre’ – threw open its doors this June, becoming the seventh addition to the Macellaio RC Group at a coveted Shaftesbury Avenue location, and has already been garnering attention from discerning foodies thanks to its impressive menu, mouth-watering cuisine and of course, the performance that goes with it.
Located next door to the prestigious Gielgud and Sondheim Theatres owned by Cameron Macktintosh, Il Teatreo della Carne serves up organic, sustainably sourced meat and fish in just the kind of theatrical style its name suggests, with chefs and waiters coming together to give diners a memorable and all-encompassing experience, pre- or post-show.
The 120-seat restaurant is structured like a theatre, too, with the kitchen and bar taking centre stage to allow diners to enjoy the spectacle of their food being expertly prepared and their cocktails shaken by mixologists in front of their very eyes.
“Eating at my restaurant is like watching a play at the theatre….a play that you want to watch again and again,” says Roberto – which seems fitting given its West End location.
And while performance is certainly a fundamental element of this innovative restaurant and all it has to offer, it certainly isn’t without substance when it comes to its menu.
So, what exactly is the calibre of meat you can expect at Il Teatro della Carne? It is, Roberto says, much more than simply ‘beef’. In fact, he and his team source their cuts only from Fassona – a breed of cow that is native to the Piedmont region in his native Italy. Having created a pioneering supply chain where each step is meticulously checked and guaranteed by Costa himself, he sources from 170 Italian farms in total. Cows first graze in pastures on the Piedmont hills before being moved to a barn, where their meat gains that sweet taste and tenderness that has always been key to the success of Macellaio RC.
The cows are fed on both hay and grains so that their meat is low in cholesterol and rich in Vitamin B – an antioxidant that preserves its characteristically intense red colour. Indeed, it is the leanest red meat you could imagine, and as Costa likes to point out, “the healthiest”.
Once the meat arrives in London, it goes through a maturation process where not only the temperature is measured, but also the PH. Ensuring it is as it should be guarantees a creamy and balanced beef that is guaranteed to impress diners – and has already done so, on many occasions.
Meat has always been a core ingredient of Roberto’s Macellaio RC group and the six other restaurants within it, but at Il Teatro della Carne, new menu concept ‘The Butcher Goes Fishing’ plays an equally important part in the menu. Prestigious fish such as salmon, tuna and hake are matured and dry-aged on site to improve flavour and texture and joined by delicious, fresh delicacies including oysters, bottarga, vongole and more. All fish and seafood is, of course, sustainably sourced.
Aging fish helps intensify the flavour and improves its texture. During the process, amino acid chains break down, creating the rich, umami flavour that makes them so appealing – and ‘The Butcher Goes Fishing’ offers some of the very best we’ve tasted, making it just as worthy of your attention.
So, what should you order if you’re lucky enough to secure a table at this highly sought-after new eatery?
Specialities include the Costata del Macellaio (dry aged Fassona beef rib steak) and the Fiorentina del Macellaio (dry aged Fassona T-Bone steak), both of which make for an excellent choice for first timers and a mouth-watering introduction into all that Il Teatro della Carne has to offer. These, along with other meat cuts, are dry aged for between seven and nine weeks and served ‘on the bone’. Guests are invited to choose their preferred meat cut and weight directly at the counter, and it is cut and grilled for them live for their viewing pleasure.
Other brand-new specialities include bone marrow with rock oysters and the STHake (hake steak).
Cameron Mackintosh, associate producer and landlord of the Il Teatro della Carne, is thrilled to be working alongside Roberto on such an exciting project, and feels that his Shaftesbury Avenue location was the perfect space for it to be brought to life.
He said: “Between the Gielgud and the Sondheim theatres I have had a wonderful space which I always dreamt would be a great, popular restaurant for theatregoers and anyone interested in good food.
“A few years ago, we hosted a spectacularly successful run of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd there, set in a real Pie shop – and using rather dubious ingredients! Then, Soho House magnificently created a beautiful restaurant which sadly became a victim of Covid-19. In return for letting them out of a long lease, to my surprise I suddenly became the owner of a fully equipped, pristine restaurant – but what to do with it?
“The gods of the theatre then sent a culinary impresario with a similar dream my way: Roberto Costa, who already has several hugely successful restaurants in London and Milan. I immediately felt a kindred spirit and was taken by his charming and passionate vision to create a Teatro della Carne there, fuelled by the best regularly imported, hand-selected Italian produce and featuring amazing cuts of prime aged Fassona Piemontese meats cooked by his chefs on a spectacular charcoal grill – at centre stage as you enter Roberto’s delicious palace of delectable wonders.
“The whole experience is a night out as well as great food. Roberto’s consummate theatrical flair and attention to detail is a man after my own heart and a very happy collaboration. I’m delighted to be his associate producer and host on his latest presentation: Teatro della Carne- which I’m sure will be joining the other long runners of Shaftesbury Avenue for many years to come.”
Il Teatro della Carne is the seventh restaurant to be added to Macellaio RC – Roberto’s highly successful restaurant group that comprises six other steakhouses across London. Arriving in the capital back in 2012, it has since opened establishments in Fitzrovia, South Kensington, Exmouth Market and Southwark – although many food critics believe that his latest Shaftesbury Avenue offering is his most exciting endeavour yet.
Of course, you have to experience it to believe it – so why not book a table and see for yourself? Tables are booked up well in advance at this sought-after new London eatery – but it’s certain to be worth the wait.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday – 12pm to 11.30pm.
Address: 39 – 45 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6LA