Orso opened back in 1985 as an orchid warehouse, and this year celebrates 30 years as an authentic Italian restaurant. Situated in a hideaway along Covent Garden’s cobbled streets, this charming restaurant is a pleasure to stumble upon.
James Bond cocktail
Before being seated, I found myself trying out the salted caramel martini at the quaint bar. I also decided to order something that was exclusive to the restaurant and went for the The Orso Cocktail which is not for the faint-hearted – a mixture of Campari, pink grapefruit juice and prosecco. If you are visiting for a celebration or a pre-theatre meal I would recommend the James Bond Cocktail – a mixture of Champagne, Stolichnaya, Angostura and a cane sugar cube.
I asked the restaurant manager Kells what he would recommend, and he didn’t disappoint! For the aperitivi, we had Carta Di Musica – Italian flatbread with garlic or rosemary. This wasn’t your average garlic bread – it was crispy and light, and along with deep-fried squid with caper mayonnaise made for a perfect start to our evening.
Shortly after, we received a small selection of starters. Insalata di buffala was first to arrive – buffalo mozzarella with slow-roast plum tomato, basil and aged balsamic. The freshness of every ingredient really shone through, making for a delightful dish. The next dish was vitello tonnato – roast veal with tuna dressing and fried capers. You wouldn’t normally think that veal and tuna mix well, but the tuna dressing really brought out the tender tastes of the roasted veal.
Next up was pork belly, served with mashed potatoes, cabbage and gravy. I think this dish could have been improved with a small amount of apple sauce and the option to pour your own gravy with a little jug on the side, as the meat was sitting in the gravy a for a while which changed the crispy texture. However, delicious flavours of the crackling seeped into the meat and left the dish bursting with flavour.
We also tried the pan-fried thinly sliced calf’s liver with pancetta, roasted red onion and aged balsamic vinegar marinade. Again, we were presented with a generous portion of juicy and succulent marinated meat, and although this dish doesn’t come with a side you are welcome to order one. We tried a side of mashed potatoes as this was recommended, but the meat on its own with the red onion was filling enough.
To finish, we indulged in a thick chocolate paste cake with a side of mascarpone. I would also recommend diving into the tiramisu – fresh, cold and creamy, topped off with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
Don’t forget to get a recommendation from your waiter on paired dessert wines that complement your chosen dessert. This proved a nice way to finish a fantastic evening with a cleansed palate.
Orso – Covent Garden
27 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7DB