Whether it be a business lunch, pre-theatre meal or more intimate evening dinner, Luciano by Gino D’Acampo in the heart of London’s theatreland and just a stone’s throw from Covent Garden, is the perfect spot and offers a superb Italian menu that should suit most tastes.
This upmarket and sophisticated restaurant is located on the ground floor of the 5-star MEbyMeliã London hotel and thanks to its floor to ceiling windows, creates a bright and airy atmosphere. There is also a contemporary outdoor terrace for those warmer summer days and evenings, where you can enjoy a little taste of Italian café culture with summer drinks served every evening between 5:00pm and 7:00pm, along with a selection of complimentary cicchetti.
There is nothing quite like enjoying aperitivo time after work with friends while the evenings are still light here in London, when you can sip on a refreshing Aperol Spritz or Negroni whilst taking in the West End’s vibrant atmosphere and buzz.
Some of the other summer drinks and signature cocktails that start from £14, include ‘Breakfast with Hemingway’, which is a mix of Havana Club 3yr rum, Maraschino liqueur, grapefruit and lime with grapefruit marmalade, and ‘Luce Verde’, which combines Ginato Pinot Grigio gin and Hotel Starlino elderflower aperitivo with lime, grapes and cucumber.
The complimentary cicchetti served during aperitivo time is a tasty selection of Cerignola Olives, Parma Ham and Grissini Pane Carasau with Artichoke Dip Pecorino Chunks with Honey, Heritage Tomato Bruschetta and Bresaola with Rocket and Pecorino.
Our recent visit, however, was to try some of the excellent dishes on Luciano by Gino D’Acampo’s main menu which offers an extensive selection of Antipasti, Carpaccio and Tartare, Insalata, Pasta and Risotto, Pizza, market fresh fish and succulent steaks, including a Chateaubriand Fillet steak or Ribeye to share.
Seated at our cosy and comfortable corner table overlooking the restaurant, we were offered a glass of fantastic quality Ferghettina Milledi vintage sparkling wine from Lombardy, which is fresh and elegant with white flowers and citrus notes. The palate is somewhat complex with brioche, citrus and apple fruit characters which gives it a lovely weight and texture. It is produced solely from Chardonnay and comes from the Gatti family’s 120 hectares of vineyards in six localities within the DOC and is a good alternative to the ever popular Prosecco.
The menu offers a lot of choice, so it takes a while to navigate your way through it, but I decided on the Prawn and Avocado with gem lettuce and a delicious Marie Rose sauce to start with, something I have not had for quite some time, although I was tempted by the Asparagus with poached eggs and pecorino cheese. My guest was very pleased with the Arancine with mushroom, mozzarella, tomato and red pepper sauce but was tempted by the pan-fried scallops with potato purée and crispy pancetta.
As for our main course, I was torn between the Salmon Fillet, Tuna Steak and Sea Bass, but the latter came strongly recommended with two fresh sea bass fillets resting on an Italian salsa with a lemon half, while my guest chose the impressive looking and equally tasty Seafood Risotto from the Specials Menu.
We were looked after superbly by restaurant manager and sommelier Thomas and his team, who guided us through the restaurant’s extensive selection of premium Italian and international wines, which have been sourced directly from Gino’s hand-picked suppliers, many of which you will find are exclusive to Luciano and start from £9.50 a glass or £30 a bottle.
The wine we were recommended, and which paired perfectly with our dishes, was a 2020 white Il Bianco di Ciccio from the Cantina Zaccagnini winery in Abruzzo in Central Italy. It has a strong butter apple and pear combination with a slight earthy undertone. This medium body dry white goes particularly well with pasta, fish and vegetarian dishes and is also a good wine to choose to go with summer appetizers.
We made sure that we left a little room so that we could try one of the naughty but nice sounding desserts. Obligingly offering a Piatto di dolci sharing dessert plate, we got the chance to try a selection of the unbelievably tasty Chocolate and Hazelnut Cheesecake with Ferrero Rocher, Tiramisú and a Panna cotta with strawberries. Wow, what a selection and perfect way to end a superb lunch in a delightful restaurant in the heart of London’s West End.
Luciano by Gino D’Acampo, 336-337 The Strand, Aldwych, London, WC2R 1HA, England.
Tel: +44 (0)203 973 0733
Located on the ground floor of MEbyMeliã London, the closest mainline and Underground station is Charing Cross an eight minute walk along The Strand or Covent Garden Tube station on the Piccadilly line. The restaurant is open Sunday to Thursday from midday to 10:30pm; Friday and Saturday from midday to 11:00pm.
Type of Restaurant: Italian Restaurant
Price Band: Medium to high
Insider Tip: Be sure to leave enough room for one of their fabulously indulgent desserts.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Luciano by Gino D’Acampo and by Simon Burrell