THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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The '20s are off to a roaring start! After weeks of overeating and drinking, my first day back to the daily slog was a joy. OK, it was more overeating and drinking, but still… VyTA, a feminization of “life” in Italian, turned the first dreary Monday of the year into a celebration.
Nicolò Marzotti opened his first shop at the Roma Termini railway station in 2004. Since then he has opened 12 more restaurants throughout Italy. This is Marzotti's first international venture and the spot he has chosen is quite a prize. On the southwest corner of Covent Garden Market, the restaurant boasts a piazza, basement dining room and first floor lounge and terrace. It is stunning! It merges big and bold with sexy ‘60s Italy and still makes you feel comfy and cosy. Cerise, teal, gold and multitudes of marble color the intimate dining spaces. We lucked out and got one of the 3 snugs. They had to throw us out!
The staff charmed the grey, dreary Monday right out of me. After divesting me of my winter layers, the lovely hostess took me to the bar where a glass of bubbles was placed in my hand within seconds. Dry January be damned. The barman offered delightful conversation until my guest arrived. We cased the lounge and decided it was our new drinks destination. After greeting two Yorkshire women who were enjoying the “balmy” weather on the terrace, we headed down to our cosy snug.
Tapioca crisps with squid ink mousse and homemade grissini introduced us to Executive Chef Dino De Bellis’ food. Wonderful. Simple savoury snacks with elegance. The menu is classic Italian reimagined with a good choice and a range of prices. By contrast the wine list is on the pricey side but very well put together. Of late, I’ve been enjoying Primitivo and the excellent sommelier recommended a 2013 Antica Masseria Jorche Riserva at £65. Packed with fruit, spice, oak and soft tannins. I enjoyed every drop.
Burrata e panzanella (£13) was gorgeous. Multi-coloured cherry tomatoes, croutons, olives, basil oil and a globe of creamy mozzarella. By comparison, the panzerotto (£10) was a bit flat; fried pizza dough filled with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil seemed out of place in such a lavish setting.
De Bellis’ Vitello Tonnato (£15) brought us back to fine dining territory. The tuna is more substantial; a mousse, rather than a dressing. Sumptuous. Flavoured with anchovies, mustard and aromatic herb foam. Rigatoni Amatriciana (£15) had to be dish of the day. The blend of tomato sauce, guanciale and Pecorino was heavenly.
Desserts (£9) are not overcomplicated. The cake of the day, ricotta cheesecake with raspberry jam provided soft, sweet comfort. Gianduja chocolate ganache in a vanilla tartelette with caramelised hazelnuts and red currants combined creaminess and crunch with the lovely nutty taste that is Gianduja.
Here’s to 2020. To life!