Restaurant Review: Zia Teresa, Knightsbridge in London
Pulling off my woollen hat and plunging into the warmth of Zia Teresa I almost collide with the restaurant manager who is carefully balancing a large potato like truffle. An unexpected but charming welcome, this instantly sets the scene for the evening at Zia Teresa: an Italian joint with a heritage dating back to 1956 that strives to maintain an authenticity true to its popularity over the decades.
We begin our evening downstairs within their newest venture – Cantinetta, in Italian terms – ‘little cellar’. A wine bar within the basement, Cantinetta has welcoming sapphire velvet seats that line themselves along the freshly painted brickwork. We nibble on fat green olives and smoked almonds with bubbly filled flutes of prosecco, and (truffle aside) the manager enthusiastically tells us about the surrounding Knightsbridge neighbourhood and both the restaurant’s loyal and local regulars; whilst intermittently greeting other fellow customers.
With a postcard snapshot of the Harrods department store just beyond Zia Teresa’s glass façade, upstairs on street level, we are encouraged onto various glasses of comforting red wines and subsequently their Italian favourites. To start, an uncommon combination (for London) of creamy Burrata served with smoked salmon and balsamic dressing, as well as generous sized truffled arancini and chunky cuts of bruschetta topped simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil.
Generous main courses slide themselves over to our warmly lit table. Porcini mushroom risotto with scamorza cheese is rich and deliciously homemade whilst Gnocchi della Zia: potato dumplings with a truffle, trevigiano radicchio and cream is also lovingly made with a luxury truffle touch. Not satisfied with having only sampled a small part of their Italian edible portfolio, Veal Escalope Milanese with a selection of vegetables is the perfect answer to a simple Italian favourite that has been consumed through the decades. Bursting at the seams at an instant we nearly forget how an Italian will not let you be excused without a hearty portion of their homemade dessert. Two recently had been freshly whipped up for their diners – a thick slice of banoffe pie and a light tiramisu.
Convenient and convivial with a menu suited to a variety of tastes; local residents and workers have joined force with the shoppers, filling the tables over the years, with consistently reliable food complete with true Italian nostalgia. Debuting back in 1956 by founder, Lorenzo Fraquelli – a successful Italian chef who began establishing Italian cooking across London’s growing food scene over the 1950’s. Zia Teresa is a story that continues to this day and remains under the Fraquelli family; recently celebrating their 60th anniversary.
With years of tradition and culinary expertise, Zia Tersea represents what Italian food should really be. Served, cooked, baked and poured by Italian’s in a charming space, this restaurant I suspect (aside their new wine bar) has altered very little over the years. Filled with pride and devotion Zia Teresa is adaptable to its location. Diners from all walks (Italian or not, local or simply passing through) are welcome and often return for a meal they can guarantee will be unashamedly authentic, nostalgic, luxurious and convenient for all the family.
Address: 6 Hans Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1RX, 020 7589 7634, www.ziateresa.co.uk