“ ITALIAN. 15 Marylebone Lane. Tel+44(0)207 935 9226. „
For all those who love authentic Tuscan cuisine, Caldesi Tuscan Restaurant is a dream come true. Located in Marylebone village, the restaurant is a family business owned by husband and wife team Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi, who bring the uniqueness of Tuscany's finest cuisine to the heart of London.
Caldesi Tuscan Restaurant is inspired by the Italian cuisine of Giancarlo's native Tuscany and provides an exciting alternative to the standard Italian restaurants London has to offer. Giancarlos flamboyant personality is a proof that Tuscany can simply be a tube ride away.
Most ingredients used in Caldesi restaurant are specially sourced from the region including salami which is used in the Antipasti tipici Toscani and olive which is chosen from Luccas finest. The majority of the dishes are Tuscan recipes that have never been written down but have been verbally handed down from generation to generation in-keeping with true Tuscan tradition. Giancarlo Caldesi has created a truly authentic menu but has added his personal touch. Signature dishes include roast guinea fowl with herbs and winter vegetables, handmade Tuscan pasta with lamb ragu, Tuscan pici and ribollita, char grilled squid and king prawns with lemon olive oil, garlic, chili and parsley. The wine list has been specially selected to complement the flavour rich food and features a broad selection of wines from different regions of Italy including an impressive collection of super Tuscans, extremely full-bodied red wines from the region. The food and wine lists are matched only by the impeccable service.
Katie Caldesi has beautifully decorated the restaurant with frescoed walls and wooden floors in line with authentic Tuscan design. Upstairs, a Renaissance private dining room is available for hire for up to 20 people. The sumptuously decorated room is richly hand painted and adorned with gold leaf in the style of the frescoes of 15th century Florence, making the Renaissance Room ideal for special events, corporate or social. Matching the exquisite period detail of the decor, the Tuscan menu created to blend with the room includes Renaissance recipes such as stuffed roast duck with mince meat, raisins and pine nuts, four-cheese pie and roast suckling pig with fresh rosemary.
Tuscan cuisine is on its way to your living room as Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi are set for stardom on the culinary scene this Spring. They are launching a BBC2 television series Return to Tuscany which is due to air on 8th May 2006 along with a recipe book to accompany the series. In the television series Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi return to Giancarlos culinary roots in Tuscany to set up a cookery school and teach the secrets of traditional Tuscan cooking.
The Caldesis are bound to make you fall for the charm and culinary pleasures of the most sensuous region of Italy.
This was my second visit to Caldesi. Caldesi sits at the Wigmore Street end of Marylebone Lane, and if you did not know what you were looking for, you would never notice or find it. As suggested in previous reviews, it is Tuscan in outlook, and was chosen by our friends who are very keen on spending weeks in deserted villas in Tuscany, and one is a vegetarian.
Our last visit was impressive, with excellent food. Whilst my dining companions has no expressions of regret on this occasion, I was sufficiently disappointed to consider finding somewhere else if the suggestion is made to go there again.
The restaurant is small, and feels Italian. There is no garish decor, and tables are simple. It is small with, say, 40 covers, but I was surprised that on a Saturday night in central London, with plenty of tourists around it was not full about 25% of tables empty during the evening.
I had to eat a pasta with duck ragout starter, followed by rib eye steak in a reduced caramelized vinegar sauce, and desert of three chocolate puddings (mouse, tart and ice cream). My wife had squid starter, duck and pannacotta.
Service was slack, and despite the fact that we were not in a hurry to go, there were long lapses between orders and delivery. In fact our initial drink order had to be given twice as they seemed to have forgotten. My main course was served luke warm (???? The way it might come in Tuscany, but does not hit the spot for an Autumn evening in London). The ragout was very heavy on tomato, and had I not known it was duck, I might never have guessed. However the desserts were wonderful.
Drink is expensive, and prosecco was £7 per flute, and my Bellini was £8. Wines were correspondingly expensive, but good. Whist the service was slow in delivering, it was quick on the retrieving, and our bottles of wine and water were removed before finished. I believe that service (especially when it is forcibly added to the bill) should be anticipatory of the customers needs, and not those of the restaurant. Coffee was expensive, in small cups and not refilled.
The bill for a three course meal including coffee and drinks came to £117 per couple. This was deemed by all to be expensive for what was being offered.
Quite frankly the Caldesi has lost its edge, treated us the customer, with indifference, and charged a lot for it.