“ ITALIAN. 63 Endell St, WC2H 9AJ, Tel: +44 (0)20 7240 3632 „
This place was booked by mistake instead of a large restaurant nearby with a similar name. This happened to be an excellent mistake made! LOCATION This Italian restaurant is in the Covent Garden area with an address of: 63 Endell Street Covent Garden London FIRST IMPRESSIONS When we arrived we were told our table for 14 wasn't quite ready and had to wait outside in the cold for a very short time of a couple of minutes. This was my only problem and in fairness to the restaurant we were a little late for our booking due to some people who like to take an age getting dolled up. We were led inside by a really friendly waiter who showed us to our table in the middle of the restaurant. The size of the restaurant was a bit deceptive due to a wall of mirrors, we'd been sat for quite some time before we realised it was our reflection and not another dining area. There was still a good amount of tables which were nicely spaced out and there was feeling of being sat on top of one another or waiters squeezing by etc. The decor was really lovely, it was modern whilst still being comfortable and not bare and everything was sparkling clean as were the glasses and cutlery. THE MENU I was surprised to find no pizzas on the menu in an Italian restaurant but I was informed by a fellow diner that this is not uncommon these days. I would advise anyone who needs glasses to take them. The larger writing with the name of the dishes is in bold Italian writing and the English description is fairly small and hard to read. The vegetarian in our group was delighted with the amount of options available for her. They also offer gluten free pasta if required. Starters varied in price from around £6-11. Choices included a salmon dish, scallops, brie, tuna and one or two meat options. We skipped starters, asking for sides to share instead getting a few plates of bruschetta and garlic bread. Mains were between £8-15. There was again a good selection of meat (chicken, steak, veal) or seafood (prawns, lobster, mixed) as well as vegetarian which seemed to be mainly pasta (tomato pasta, spinach and ricotta ravioli). Desserts A good selection under £5, there was a choice of cakes, doughnut, ice cream, crepes and more. I asked the waiter for his advice I told him I normally would opt for a carbonara (might be a bit dull but I love it) and I asked if anything had a creamy sauce. To which he replied that if I want carbonara, I get carbonara. Big smiles :) :). He also asked what type of pasta I would like, spoilt for choice I eventually decided on tagliatelle. What I really liked was that we didn't once feel rushed, he gave us the menus, filled our glasses with drinks and were left in peace. I cannot stand being rushed! THE FOOD I cannot rave enough about the food, firstly it all came together and was all piping hot and in warm dishes and plates. Starters We ordered a couple of sides to share between the table instead of starters as we didn't want too much. The garlic bread and bruschettas were very good and just the light bite we needed before the main. Main courses These arrived a few minutes after the starters were cleared away and I felt it was perfect timing, a few minutes to have a chat and a sip of your drink but not waiting what seems like hours between courses. I got plenty of my beloved parmesan and there were plenty of sauces and condiments so nobody had to ask for anything. As far as my carbonara, it's a relatively simple dish which can often be a little bland, this was not. It was the best carbonara I have ever eaten and I've eaten a lot of them! There was plenty of beautiful ham in it and the sauce was a lovely thick, creamy consistency without being too rich. Another couple of our table ordered lasagne which were a great size, they were served in very traditional looking dishes and looked and tasted fantastic, I had to try a bit of one and again, the nicest I've tried. Three people ordered steak, each cooked differently to order and each to perfection, they each ordered a side of delicious rustic roast potatoes which again I had to try. Every one of the fourteen of us absolutely raved about the food and the portions were a really good size. We all found ourselves forcing the others to try a bite of our own as they were so nice. Desserts I'm not a dessert person, I was tempted to order one just because I knew after the other courses that whatever I ordered was going to be fantastic. I had to restrain myself though as I was full from my other courses and from picking at others' dishes. Two people ordered desserts, a tirimasu and a lemon cheesecake, as expected they said they were delicious. PRICE AND OVERALL EXPERIENCE I think the price was around £25 per head. The majority of this was main courses and a lot of alcohol. For the quality of the food and the absolutely fantastic service from the waiters and the lovely couple managing the place this is an absolute bargain! I would advise anybody visiting the area to skip the chain restaurants and many other Italian restaurants around as this one is a must! I think booking would be necessary as it isn't that large. The next time I am planning to visit the area I think booking here would be my top priority over anything! 6 Stars! :) The toilets were down some pretty steep stairs which is something to take into account for those with mobility issues. They weren't as nice as the rest of the restaurant but were clean and adequate. I wouldloveto add pictures! Their website is da-mario.co.uk
I actually don't want to tell anyone about this amazing little restaurant as it's my fiercely guarded little secret, but something is compelling me to share it with everyone and I hope it won't get hijacked as a result! People who know Covent Garden will be aware of how trendy and expensive the area can be, especially when it comes to eating out. The majority of restaurants here profit hugely from the theatre trade and many of them are ridiculously overpriced and shamelessly lacking in any soul as a result. But not this place. I stumbled upon Da Mario when I first started seeing my husband and had arranged a day out in London for his birthday. I was desperately searching for a decent Italian, but was frustrated by the run of the mill, chain restaurants presented to me as options online. Eventually I came up trumps and found some information on what has now become one of my favourite places to eat. The immediate appeal was the size of the establishment as it is tiny, cosy and intimate. Added to that was a sample menu which described mouthwatering, but simple and authentic Italian cuisine. When we first arrived at the restaurant we were treated like old friends and the Italian staff immediately began to put us at ease with their warmth and humour. We were led to our table which was decorated with a crisp white tablecloth and a single bloom in a tall, clear vase. We pondered the menu at ease and were pleased to see that there was plenty of choice, but not so much that it became intimidating or difficult to choose. The menu was divided into sections for antipasti, meat, pizza, pasta and dessert. There was a seperate drinks menu which was primarily wine, beer and soft drink based. On our very first visit I chose the spinach and ricotta ravioli with a butter and sage sauce and my husband opted for the mussels. The portions were adequate, neither large nor small but certainly enough. My dish was delicious with the zingy sauce tantalising every tastebud, and my husband said his mussels were the most succulent he has ever had. For dessert my husband decided on the chocolate torte which I obviously had to taste, and I can confirm that it was very strong, and the perfect mix of bitterness and sweetness. My lemon sorbet was very refreshing and again was a tempting treat for my very willing tastebuds. The service was exceptional. The waiting staff are very efficient and seem to take great pride in the food they are serving up. They are typically Italian in their demeanor and approach, in that they seem to take everything very seriously, but exhibit great flair, never hassling you and simply leaving the fantastic food speak for itself. The restaurant itself is slightly away from the main tourist bustle of Covent Garden, but is within five minutes walking distance from the tube station. It is located on a quiet little street which sees few visitors compared to the main thoroughfare. Nevertheless people flock to this restaurant and it seems to have many loyal regulars, who like me until now, keep this place firmly to themselves. I have been back here with my husband and also with selected friends, and nobody has ever failed to be impressed, even my sophisticated city friends who have eaten in the most high-class places in London. Da Mario has a winning combination and that is superb food, competitive prices, charisma and a mix of old fashioned charm and contemporary touches. A three course meal for two with wine came in at around £50, which is extremely good for Covent Garden, particularly as most places around here are churning out sub-standard and bland meals and charging a lot more for it! I can't fault this restaurant and am actually craving a visit right now, but sadly my daughter is in bed and my London days long behind me. But a girl can always dream!