Gastrovino & Bar8, Chelsea

June 06, 2016
Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails. 
THE BEST OF IL BEL PAESE 'THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY' AT
"I want abs, but...food. I love travel, but...lazy." My daily struggle encapsulated in ten words, 33 letters. Despite my best efforts, no amount of cat eye-eyeliner will make me Sophia "everything you see, I owe to spaghetti" Loren, which leaves me with my annual conundrum come Summer - how do I reconcile my love of Italian food (because carbs) with wanting to not be the first fatso to be eaten on The Island? Sometimes, the answer is in plain sight. Or rather, on the far end of the District Line, to be found at the other end of London. The one stone that killed both birds is a new gastronomical destination in Chelsea - Gastrovino & Bar8. This new culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group opened on the KR (that's King’s Road to non-Sloanes) in February and is already enjoying a roaring trade. Lovers of the best of Il Bel Paese - 'the beautiful country', as Dante Alighieri defined the booted peninsula - flock to Gastrovino & Bar8 for chef Andrea Pesenti's menu of exceptionally authentic Italian dishes, many of which are seductively delicate and aren't even loaded with carbs! You can have your Italian and eat it too, it seems...  
Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.
Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.
Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.


START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON

I had to made the trek to West London for two events in Chelsea - a faux-flower arranging workshop with OKA followed by a tour of RHS Chelsea Flower Show - so I thought I'd make a working lunch out of my first stop in the Royal Borough. Sadie, my talent manager/agent-kindred free-sprit, joined me for lunch. We settled into a charmingly rustic nook by the window while perusing the Bar8 menu of 20 different wines by the glass - one for each Italian region - and their unique 8 cocktails made from of one of the world's largest vintage and modern collection of Vermouth and Amaro.

Being a working lunch, Sadie plumped for a colourful fruit bowl of a mocktail. I have never let my low threshold get in the way of, um, journalistic integrity so I chose a cocktail for the sake of research - because what is a #foodbloggers post without a pretty aperitif? Inspired by RHS Chelsea Flower Show, my drink was topped with freshly picked elderflower from chef's home in Surrey. An unexpected touch of olive oil dust resting delicately on a thin slice of carrot, attesting to the fresh and seasonal nature of both chef Andrea Pesenti and Giuseppe Gallo's menus. 

We then moved on to three starters: green chillis, risotto balls, and mozzarella cubes served on colourful plates with a side of sauce for dipping. Of the three, I found the mozzarella cubes the most curious - their colour and texture was similar to ham, and the cheese had a subtle nutty flavour that evaded me. All in all, it made for an unexpected starter which set the tone for the exciting journey of flavour, texture, and presentation to come...




Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.



Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

The six dishes that followed our starters were a riot of colour and a symphony of flavour, tied together with the theme of fresh, seasonal flowers to reflect the floral surroundings of Chelsea In Bloom. We began the 'mains event' with two seafood dishes: one of the freshest octopus I've ever tasted (above) , followed by one of the chef's signature dish - white sea bass carpaccio (below) - with a generous helping of 10 hour-proofed bread to mop up the remaining sauces from the plates.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

Following the two seafood mains were two salad dishes. The beetroot salad (above) was - as expected from the quality of our previous mains - fresh, light, and delicate. Our second salad (below) was of the artichoke variety, but being absolutely terrified of artichoke I left this to Sadie who had nothing bad to say about it. I am a salad-dodger by choice, but I imagine vegetarians who want more choices at Italian restaurants than just pasta will be pleased by both salads.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

Our fifth and sixth mains were much more up my street: decadent ingredients - truffles and raw meat - served up in attractive and colourful displays. Shoots, peas, and black truffle on a bed of ricotta (above) was just the sort of dish for a lush who craves a light dish with a touch of luxury. For the unabashed carnivore it doesn't get better than the steak tartare: for one, it looks like it's smiling at you! and two: the freshness of the meat is further highlighted with the addition of flowers that look like they were picked just seconds before reaching the plate.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.


Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.

Gastrovino & Bar8: the latest culinary adventure by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo and the Made in Italy group comes to King's Road, Chelsea, offering affordable seasonal menus of authentic Italian food by chef Andrea Pesenti and a selection of 20 Italian wines and 8 unique cocktails.
Sadie and I, or rather just myself, polished off our feast with three classic Italian puddings, each with a twist. The biscotti was accompanied with oil for dipping, which was an extremely foreign concept to me, but when in Rome, eh? Happily, the two other desserts were far more comprehensible to my easily-confused palate. The drunken pear and ricotta cooked overnight in wine reduction was absolute perfection: with the perfect density-to-crumbly ratio of the best cheesecake, on a nutty base that only served as an exciting contrast to the creamy texture of the ricotta. Freshly picked elderflower made its final appearance, lightly scattered on a bed of strawberries that topped the apricot caramel panacotta. Again, the creativity of chef Andrea Pesenti showed in the details: the caramel is made from apricot, and what looked to be nuts were actually slices of apricot seed.

It's those kind of details, the freshness of the ingredients of the seasonal menu, the mouth watering flavours, and the gorgeous presentation of Gastrovino & Bar8 that makes the affordable prices all the more astonishing, and absolutely the reason why this latest addition to discerning Chelsea is already a booming success. I highly recommend, in this order; the octopus, white sea bass carpaccio, ricotta with black truffles and peas, steak tartare, drunken pear ricotta, and apricot caramel panacotta.


*Our meal was complimentary in exchange for this review. Thank you, Gastrovino & Bar8, for an afternoon of La Dolce Vita.



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