I am delighted to see that it’s third time lucky in the shape of il Pampero for this hidden away gem of a restaurant in residential Belgravia, as it’s two previous incarnations were not overly successful.
I never dined at the original Mark Hix restaurant when the hotel first opened back in 2012 as Belgraves, which lasted all but a year, but I did have breakfast and lunch here as ‘Pont Street’, under the stewardship of the then youngest British female Executive Chef, Sophie Michell.
Il Pampero is not a particularly Italian sounding name I hear you saying and you’d be right. The name actually comes from a much-loved horse of the hotel’s owner, who decided to rebrand the hotel as the The Hari in 2016, moving it away from US-based Thompson Hotels and completely overhaul the restaurant into the bright, cosy and bustling place that it is now.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers something altogether quite different from what was here before. Firstly, the interior has had a complete facelift and has an earthy feel to it with dark green walls and black and white floor tiling. The bar has been relocated from the far end of the restaurant to a more central location and is now the focal point of the restaurant, with the white table clothed tables well positioned around the bar and large almost floor-to-ceiling windows, giving a much warmer and cosier feel to the place. Local British designer Tara Bernerd, who designed the hotel’s interior, has worked her magic to create a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere and Executive Chef Claudio Covino and his team offer diners a traditional Italian menu complemented with a comprehensive Italian wine list and tempting cocktail menu.
Our evening begins with a cocktail and chef’s selection of delicious charcuterie at the bar before being shown to our cosy booth by the window, where the delightful Giampiero took us through the menu and even brought out a wooden board of raw steak to show us some different cuts, which included a 28-day aged ribeye. Tempting though this was, we took some time to survey the well thought out menu, which offers a nice range of salads, pastas, fish and meat dishes as well as a number of vegetarian options.
We start with some good old traditional pasta, all made in-house, as is the bread. I opt for the homemade ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach and topped with a butter and sage sauce, whilst my dinner partner is hungry and goes for plate full of spaghetti with clams, garlic and parsley. Both dishes set us up well for the main event.
I am rather partial to a bit of venison and being a cold January evening, decide on the venison filet with cavolo nero, salsify velouté and berry jus, which hit the mark. My partner on the other hand fancied something a little lighter after that big plate of pasta and decides on the stone bass with sautéed escarole, pine nuts sultanas and taggliasca olives. Whilst my partner stuck with her bubbly, I decide that a fairly full bodied red wine would pair well with the venison and was recommended a superb 2016 Dolcetto D’Alba, G.D Vaijga.
And talking of wine, I am pleased to report that il Pampero has a good selection of Italian wines that should satisfy most palettes and pockets and offers a good range by the glass starting from £7.50 or £28 for a bottle.
Full, yes, beaten, no, as we peruse the dessert menu after some arm twisting by the genial Giampiero and decide to share their wonderful yoghurt parfait with a limoncello jelly in the centre and a fabulously tasty Tiramisu covered in warm coffee. We then round off our evening with a limoncello before calling it a night, bidding the friendly restaurant team, who have looked after us so well, adieu, and head off into the cold January night. It was a late night but well worth it and after all the weekend had started. On a chilly night such as tonight, we’re happy that the ambience in the restaurant is warm and inviting and look forward to our next visit.
Il Pampero, 20 Chesham Place, Belgravia, London, SW1X 8HQ, England
Tel: +44 (0)20 3189 4850
Located in the heart of Belgravia, il Pampero is on the ground level of The Hari Hotel, accessible via the hotel’s main entrance. The closest Tube Station is Knightsbridge on the Piccadilly line, a five-minute walk or Sloane Square on the Circle and District lines which is a brisk 8-10 minute walk away. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday for lunch from midday to 3:00pm and for dinner from 6:00pm to 10:30pm and on Sunday from midday through to 9:30pm.
Type of Restaurant: Italian Restaurant
Price Range: Medium
Insider Tip: Try to book one of their corner or side booths by the window for a more intimate dinner or if you just like watching everyone else.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of The Hari and by Simon Burrell