Restaurant Review: Camillo Benso, Mayfair in London
A favourite on the Milanese fine dining circuit, Camillo Benso opened its first international outpost in London in August of last year. Its location on quiet Blenheim Street keeps it perfectly tucked away from the madness of the shoppers at nearby Bond Street and Oxford Circus. Eager to see if the establishment could deliver on its promise to bring authentic Italian cuisine to Mayfair, I decided to take my good friend Danilo, who hails from Puglia, to put Camillo Benso to the test.
The restaurant interiors are both swish and warm at the same time, which is never an easy feat. Velvet banquettes and jewel-toned glassware provided lively pops of colour to the surroundings. From the general manager to the servers, everyone seemed to be Italian, which is always a good sign. Danilo hails from Puglia, a region known as the “breadbasket” of Italy, which used to produce most of the country’s pasta. Despite Camillo Benso having an extensive selection of pizzas and secondi options like oven-roasted sea bass and a Milanese veal chop, I knew that pasta was what we were there for.
The menu has a separate section dedicated to carpacci and tartare. Though both seafood and meat options were available, on our server’s suggestion, we decided on the Piedmont Fassona beef tartare with mustard mayo and black truffle. Fassona is a breed of cattle from Italy’s northwest Piedmonte region and is known for its lean and tender meat. The dish arrived looking like art on a plate. It was the perfect size to begin our meal and the mustard mayo and black truffle provided a nice contrast to the high-quality meat.
Though traditionally taken as a first course, we opted to have our pastas take centre stage for the evening. I was craving for a warm, Winter dish and chose the pappardelle with duck and black truffle. As soon as I saw the plate, I commented on the beautiful pappardelle and how it was instantly obvious that it was fresh and homemade. The duck ragu was rich and delicious and complemented the shaved truffles on top.
Danilo chose the spaghettone alla Nerano, something that would never have caught my eye, and reminded me why he was the perfect dinner partner for the evening. “Spaghettone alla Nerano is one of those authentic, regional Italian dishes which is difficult to find in London,” he tells me. “This pasta is cooked perfectly; the saltiness of the provolone and the crispiness of the fried courgettes make for a perfect balance,” he says.
To end our meal, we picked the Tortino Siciliano with sweet creamy ricotta cheese, pistachios, and candied orange. An alternative take to the traditional cannoli, Camillo Benso’s deconstructed version is both intriguing and different.
As we finished off the last of our glasses of Il Bruciato wine from the Guado Al Tasso estate, we toasted to a delicious meal and to our delight at having found a taste of Milan in Mayfair.
Address: 8-10, Blenheim St, Mayfair, London W1S 1LJ
Phone: 020 7629 8889