On the day that storm Doris hit the UK I braved the winds and headed down to the award winning Diciannove Italian restaurant and bar to conduct a review. I was lucky that I didn’t get blown away by storm Doris and I’m sure you have seen the multitude of viral videos that showed people being blown down. However, I was more than ready to take the chance and after the exceptional experience I had at Diciannove; it was without a doubt worth the risk.
Now usually I’m not a fan of hotel food, having travelled frequently for work in present and past roles I developed a slight distain for hotel food which in my experience has been traditionally bland and boring; leaving my colleagues and I usually on the lookout for local authentic eateries.
However, Crown plaza – London city a few minute’s walk from London Blackfriars station, has thrown a curve ball with this one as I found housed within the Crown Plaza hotel Diciannove; an Italian restaurant and wine bar, where Alessandro Bay (who spent 10 years working under Giorgio Locatelli), is head chef.
The restaurant has a very relaxing and welcoming décor as well as a warm and inviting atmosphere. As I glanced around to look out for my dining partner for the evening I noticed the soft warm low Lighting that created an inviting ambiance. As I stood by the door waiting for the flurry of people ahead of me to be seated, my dining partner arrived just in time and we were warmly welcomed and led to our table.
The table was candle lit and in a quiet corner, away from the leather booth type seating which looked nice by the window. I noticed that it was fairly busy with guests which is always a positive sign. As I had my head at a swivel taking in my settings, a lovely waitress came over and proceeded to show us the menu and highlighted some recommendations and special; all of which sounded tasty and got me geared up and ready particularly as I could see meals being served and they all looked tantalising.
We started off with a lovely bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG , 2015 a full body fruity Red wine which complimented all the meals that we had. The wine list is extensive and filled with fine Italian wines as you would expect; so you’re not short on choice.
Our wine arrived with the customary Italian breads with olive oil and vinegar dip, simple but appetising. The starter options on offer were plentiful and we were spoilit for choice, as I don’t eat red meat and my companion didn’t either I opted for the spaghetti with fresh crab, chilli, garlic and parsley which tasted absolutely divine. I could have easily had this dish as my main. The flavours were blended well and were not overpowering, for those that say they like seafood and fish dishes but not ones that are too fishy, this is a great dish for you.
My companion opted for one of the vegetarian dishes which was Ravioli, ricotta & roasted chestnuts, pumpkin puree, parmigiano reggiano (v). As I have a nut allergy I unfortunately couldn’t taste it but it was evident that my guest thoroughly enjoyed the dish.
Sipping away on our wine pleased with our starters we were looking forward to the main. I should add that it wasn’t easy to make a decision at this point…why you say?? Because there are so many options to choose from people! I was toing and froing like I was watching Serena Williams in a tennis match. Options included, grilled baby chicken, char-grilled sword fish, pan fried monkfish, slow cooked lamb and galadari pizza, to name a few.
After much deliberation, I finally made up my mind and went for the pan-fried monkfish rolled in spices, yellow pepper pure, sautéed red peppers. Now I am a fan of spices so that’s what swayed my decision. Whilst the dish wasn’t spicy to my taste, I was not disappointed, it was cooked to perfection and had a nice flavor which went well with the pepper puree. My dinner guest ordered the char-grilled swordfish served with a rocket and cherry tomato salad. As there weren’t any nuts in sight I tasted it and it was yummy and plentiful in terms of portions in comparison to mine.
As I do have a sweet tooth my interest peaked when the waitress who was very attentive showed us the desert menu. My guest went for a delicious lemon tart and I had the special on offer which was a chocolate sprinkled cannolo; an Italian fried pastry dough with ricotta filling. I had never had it before, it was nice but honestly, I had food envy when I tasted the lemon tart with berries which was just fabulous. Whilst I liked mine, I would swap desserts next time. The lemon tart was what I call a next level dessert – just scrumptious!
All in all, it was a wonderful dining experience at Diciannove. The restaurant prides itself on classic Italian cooking with bold, simple flavours whilst using fresh ingredients, and regionally source seasonal produce. The menu offers a variety of meats, seafood and vegetarian options and classic Italian dishes with homemade pastas and baked breads to suit all tastes.
If you’re looking for a great Italian restaurant I would highly recommend Diciannove. The atmosphere is inviting all of which was enhanced by the staff who were very friendly and helpful, so I’d give them 5 out of 5. *****
So, when you’re next in the city feeling hungry do try out Diciannove, you won’t be disappointed.