Tinello 87 Pimlico Road, London SW1

Are ex-Locanda Locatelli chef Federico Sali and his sommelier brother a match for their former employer?

Whether I am the right person to review Tinello, a new restaurant just on the doorstep of some of London's priciest residential property, may not be for me to say. The least I can do is forewarn the reader that I rank low on the counts of both wealth and trendiness. On top of which, I am not that well-disposed to the much-celebrated – indeed world-famous – Locanda Locatelli.

Tinello, I should explain, is affiliated to Locatelli, a restaurant I have visited only once, and that after a huge amount of eager anticipation. But I'm afraid the curmudgeon in me found it too loud, too moneyed, too expensive, too big and too full of people being seen eating at the world-famous Locanda Locatelli. To my mind, the best Italian food scores nil for ponceyness and 10 for flavour, with value for money a given.

Tinello, which opened a month ago on the site in Pimlico where L'Incontro used to be, is the product of Federico Sali, a Florentine former employee of Locatelli, and his sommelier brother Max.

Mercifully, whatever it was the brothers learnt from Locatelli, they retained the best bits. The décor is as far from its parent's place as you could imagine: low-key, dark and workmanlike. The walls are bare red brick, and the lights plain bulbs hanging from 1920s-style copper-shaded lamps. The effect is modishly austere – presumably to evoke a tinello, or kitchen eatery – yet remains slightly curious, strangely un-Chelsea. The message is that this is a place not for posing, but for serious eating.

Our starters are an announcement that not only does this guy know what he is doing, he knows he knows what he is doing. My friend has antipasti: finocchiona (fennel salami) with a bit of pecorino di Pienza cheese; figs (perfectly ripe) with Parma ham; the ubiquitous chicken-liver crostini; and onions pickled in balsamic vinegar. Each provokes gasps of "You must try this," and I duly gasp in agreement.

I have three of what the menu calls "small eats", each for £2.50 or less and designed to share. The slender strands of zucchini fritti, which might sound like the gimmick of some up-himself pretender, are a marvel. The burrata (curd cheese), with soggy, tomatoey bread, leaves you guiltily wanting more and the panzanella bread salad, always a subjective matter, is perfect. Again, here is a confident chef wanting to please, and he does.

Max Sali, meanwhile, is also doing his share of pleasing. I have a glass of dry Arpeggio Bianco, from Sicily, for which I pay an embarrassing £2.50. (I know it's cheap in the shops as well, but how many restaurants would play fair like that?)

My "primo" is perhaps the most typical of the meal. The gnudi in salsa al pomodoro (spinach and ricotta with tomato sauce), made this morning, tastes as fresh as anything I have ever tasted. This is a classic, mouthwatering case of letting the ingredients speak for themselves. My urbane friend, going through the motions of abstemiousness, can't resist a taste. He's no Jilly Cooper on the enthusiasm front, but even he calls it "sublime".

His next course, brill and borlotti beans, works well, he says, "the sweetness of the fish contrasting with the earthiness of the beans". I duly jot down this peerless piece of review-speak, but then he disgraces himself, announcing: "The brill is brill." I try to ignore it, but he keeps repeating himself, like a child hearing a fart joke for the first time. The wonder of what he is eating has clearly infected his judgment.

I plough on, hugely enjoying my beef fillet with girolle mushrooms with lemon spinach (accompanied perfectly by a Tempranillo recommended by our heroic sommelier, clearly no Italo-chauvinist), barely able to speak at the wonder of it all.

Although everything we have is light as can be, we settle on just sharing a pudding, a crumbly almond tart with yoghurt ice-cream. Decorum over who has most is maintained, although it's a close thing. The service, by the way, is perfect: friendly but low-key and well-informed.

On the way home, the following words come up again and again: terrific, quiet, understated, unshowy. Tinello, you can't help feeling, is here to stay. It was far from full, but even though Pimlico is not real work-lunch territory, I suspect it will be. As for the evenings, book now.


Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Tinello 87 Pimlico Road, London SW1, tel: 020 7730 3663 Lunch and dinner, Monday-Saturday. £90 for lunch for two, including two glasses of wine

More inspired Italians


41 Beak Street, London W1, tel: 020 7734 4479

A smash in the making, this downtown-NYC-chic Italian offers perfectly judged small-plate dishes in an atmosphere of old-style Soho conviviality

San Carlo

40 King Street West, Manchester, tel: 0161 834 6226

If you're looking for a vibrant restaurant, it's hard to beat this Italian, near House of Fraser; admittedly, it's on the pricey side, but glimpses of actors and minor football stars offer some compensation


134 Manor House Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, tel: 0191 281 6586

The very definition of cheap and cheerful, this Geordie-Italian cantina delivers great atmosphere and the odd flash of inspiration on the food front

Reviews extracted from ‘Harden’s London and UK Restaurant Guides 2010’. www.hardens.com

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments