Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Tinello, Chelsea

Tinello is sophisticated but fun, elegant but unstuffy. It serves quality food and wine at reasonable prices. London is certainly hitting its straps when it comes to Italian restaurants right now.

I like Tinello's ambience immediately - there's exposed brickwork, industrial lighting, wooden floorboards and well spaced tables with crisp, white tablecloths. The clientele are wealthy 30 plusers and, in case it gives you further confidence, there's many Italians among them on the night we visit.

To start, the mixed antipasto (£7.80) includes a selection of cheese, spicy salami and (my favourite) a silky, rich duck liver pate. Deep fried baby cuttlefish (£3.80) are coated in a crispy, light batter giving way to moist and inky pockets within. Wondrous fine shreds of fried courgettes (£2.60) look like fireworks in a bowl and are certainly moreish if slightly greasy. A creamy Pugliese burrata with tomato bread (£3) is served as a splodge on the plate, rather than whole, but loses nothing in taste for that.

A firm spaghettini with Cornish crab meat, chilli and garlic (£11) looks boring - you might go looking for the crab - but rest assured it's in there - and it tastes like sweet, spicy, al dente heaven.

Orecchiette with turnip tops, chilli, garlic and anchovies (£10.50 as a main course as above, £8.50 as entree) is one of our favourite dishes from Puglia. Here, it's not the greatest I've ever tasted, but it's good. It's salty and firm, with the kick of chilli giving it some lift. Taut pockets of pumpkin ravioli are nestled in a smooth smoked ricotta (£11.50 as a main course, £9.50 as entree). They're excellent - perfectly cooked with a terrific, robust smokiness. I'm certain you won't get flabby pasta at Tinello.

The roast veal cutlet is simply fabulous. It's juicy, fatty and tender, with the added bite of a braised fennel and lemon salad (£23.25).

They're out of tiramisu, so we take 2 serves of gelato and sorbet (£3.50 each) and a gorgeous white chocolate and pine kernel semifreddo with cocoa ice cream (£5) which I strongly recommend.

Service is attentive and friendly enough, but not overly fussy (which I count as a good thing).

With wine (a couple of bottles of fruity Valpolicella) and service, our meal tallies in at around £55 per head - excellent value for such great food and ambience. If you haven't been yet, put Tinello on your list.

Tinello, 87 Pimlico Road, Chelsea, London, Tel: 020 7730 3663

Tinello on Urbanspoon


  1. That veal cutlet looks WAY too good. Phwoar.

  2. Some might call it cliche but I'm a firm believer that it's always a good sign when a restaurant has a large number of ethnic customers. On a same note, I would hesitate to go to an Italian place when even Italians avoid. :)

    And yes, that veal looks marvelicious!

  3. The veal cutlet looks soooooo good!!! Sounds like somewhere to add to the "must visit" list!

  4. More perfect sounding pasta - i like the sound of Tinello. There have been mutterings of it being something good, along the lines of Zucca and Trullo. Sounds like those mutterings might be right.

  5. Lizzie - it's certainly a good'un.

    London Chow - yes, I find my Italian friends have high standards for Italian restaurants!

    Gourmet Butcher - Go!

    Grubworm - I still have Zucca and Trullo on my "haven't been, but really want to go" list. Tinello is great, although think Bocca is still my favourite.

  6. Sounds like you had a better time all around than I did at Tinello (which is good to hear). Our visit was marred by a service hiccup and mixed results on our food, but I'll have to give it another try, it sounds like.

    I agree with London Chow about avoiding "ethnic" restos that people of that ethnicity avoid. But I wouldn't assume that an ethnic resto full of people of that ethnicity was necessarily good. There are, for example, plenty of chinese people who eat at crappy chinese restaurants. (and plenty of British people who eat at crappy British restaurants, come to think of it).

  7. Interesting given that American in London and I were not impressed at all on our visit - but everyone else seems to love it so perhaps we had a duff night. I think your photos are almost (but not quite) as bad as mine - certainly not photo friendly lighting in Tinello!

  8. An American in London - I agree with you, particularly for Chinese restaurants; Chinatown is full of terrible Chinese restaurants filled up with Chinese people.

    Gourmet Chick - yes, the photos have that lovely amber hue! You had a bad night with the pasta there - and that kind of experience can put me off giving a place a second try when there are enough other decent options around, but perhaps you might have had some bad luck based on my experience.

  9. Veal cutlets... I see them everywhere and they never fail to make me hungry but yours at Tinello looks insane! Whooooaaaa!

  10. Swedish Meatball - it was a good one!


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