Sipping on a negroni with an olive to hand and the soft sun on my skin, I felt like I could have been in Venice where I’d been just the week before.
It was only when I spotted a red London bus peeping over the top of the manicured garden hedgerow that my Italian mind trip suddenly veered off track.
I’d stopped by at the 5-star Baglioni hotel’s recently renovated restaurant, renamed Osteria 60. Nestled in the heart of Kensington, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from Hyde Park and the Royal Palace – or for the shoppers, Harrods and Harvey Nichols are also within close proximity.
Although the interiors of the new bar and eatery ooze glamour, with a spunked up mix of art deco-esque blacks and gold, we opted for a seat on the sunny terrace.
The patio, which can seat up to 60, is sheltered from the roadside traffic and we were soon transported to some sun spot a world away from the London crush.
Osteria 60’s menu features a menagerie of modern Italian dishes. Neapolitan head chef Ivan Simeoli, previously based at Gigi’s, Club Gascon and The Wallace Collection, went about creating a range of seasonal homely recipes that would use the best of British ingredients.
After growing up in Wales, I immediately spotted a couple of home comforts with the more exotic addition of Welsh wagyu steak.
With the sun finally out in London, we opted for some lighter summery dishes. To start, we plumped for the burrata and calamari. Both dishes complemented each other well and were great to share tapas style.
Instead of being deep fried or soaked in oil, the calamari was delicately cut into silky ribbons stacked on a tomato and mozzarella base.
Getting into the brunch swing of things, we accompanied the meal with a couple of punchy cocktails. Alongside the negroni, we opted for a gin-based martini with a summer twist involving a bright plume of purple petals.
For mains our waitress Paulinka, from a small town outside of Naples, informed us that the pasta was what Simeoli does best.
‘It’s made fresh on-site and it’s really the best pasta I’ve had in London. It’s cooked al dente – the true Italian way!’
Keeping on the light front, I opted for a delicately-presented steak tartare as main, while my friend Dan opted for one of the pasta specialities.
As Paulinka promised, the pasta was divine, with the perfect amount of sparse yet delicious topping. The thick golden laces were accompanied with a mix of chunky white fish and thin, crispy-cut bacon.
Still sunning on the terrace, we went in for another drink – it was a Friday after all! This time around we opted for two Proseccos, which twinkled in golden light as the sun hemmed between the hedgerow.
We felt amply full, but with with a dessert menu too good to choose from, we swung for the negroni cheesecake.
‘I promise you’ve see nothing quite like this,’ Paulinka said and she headed back to the kitchen, with dozens more diners popping in for afternoon tea.
Paulinka was quite right as she whipped out the phallic-looking dessert.
Plunging our spoons in, the bitter sweet symphony of negroni jelly and vanilla ice cream hit. We lapped up the sweet biscuit crumbs to finish it up.
As the lunchtime sun finally loomed over us we felt it a perfect time to leave our Italian ‘festa’ and venture into the London greenery before us.
‘Ciao,’ Paulinka wished us as we headed out. ‘Don’t worry we’ll be back,’ I reassured her. For one thing, we never tried the tiramsu.
Osteria 60 is open daily until 1am. To book call +44 (0)20 7937 8886 or email email@example.com