Zilli Fish opened
at the beginning of June with quite
a splash - not surprising since Aldo
Zilli is well known as an ebullient
host who presides over his other
two Soho ventures, Signor Zilli and
Signor Zilli Bar with humour and
panache. He is a popular TV chef
and his new series Aldo's Italian
Job will be screened in September
1997. Aldo grew up in an Italian
fishing village near Pescara and
his menus have always featured seafood
Londoners have certainly
taken to the new fish restaurants
that have opened over the past couple
of years - people are more health
conscious, so I'm told, and are turning
to fish as an alternative to meat.
Not true so far as I personally am
concerned, but I love fish just as
much as I do meat, game and all manner
of vegetables. For me it's the freshness
and the cooking that counts. And
the cheerfulness and helpfulness
of the staff and the comfort and
ambience of the dining room.
Zilli fish is spacious
and light with submarine colours
and textures. It occupies a corner
site on Brewer Street with big windows
through which, from time to time,
people ogled the marvellous food
on our plates. There's a very large
fish tank over the bar where lobsters
and bass lurk, waiting for their
culinary apotheosis. Fishing them
out looked a dangerous operation,
there's so much beautiful coral in
the tank. Tables are small but well
spaced, mainly because of the luxurious
chairs. The napery and cutlery are
elegant, but the fish knives were
so round edged that I couldn't cut
the crisp leaves of my salad!
The menu is nicely
balanced with nine antipasto dishes,
eight pastas, nine main dishes and
four meats including Aldo's famous
suckling pig. As soon as you arrive,
shimmering green oil is poured onto
your plate, delicious breads are
offered for dipping and there was
a delicious puree of fresh sardines,
anchovies and herbs to spread. My
starter was a beautiful marriage
of large Mediterranean prawns with
a salad of roasted sweet and sour
peppers with crisp, blanched dandelion
leaves. This was perfect in its simplicity,
enhanced quite sufficiently by some
super home made herbed mayonnaise.
Another antipasto dish was made from
chargrilled king scallops that had
been threaded onto rosemary stems.
A salad of fresh baby spinach leaves
with a vintage balsamic dressing
provided just the right support.
I couldn't resist trying
a fishy pasta dish, so we shared
an intercourse plate of squid ink
ravioli whose generous sized parcels
were a sophisticated jet-black, stuffed
with minced crabmeat. They came floating
in a rich pomodoro sauce with plenty
of cream, basil and prawns.
My main course of wild
salmon had all the flavour and texture
of a fish that's earned its living.
It was perfectly grilled, deft timing
is great skill that I appreciate.
A wonderful touch was a garnish of
little morsels of Mostardo di Cremona.
What a place - Cremona - birthplace
of Monteverdi, Stradivarius and Mostardo.
They're little pieces of crystallized
fruit and they were a brilliant foil
for the salmon. There was also green
samphire which I love, (even if it
had to be eaten by hand - please
sort those blunt knives out Aldo!).
Opposite me, there
was much crunching of crustacea shells
as my wife tucked into her mammouth
seafood platter. There was half a
lobster, half a crab, a langoustine,
oysters, mussels and a whole lot
more. She was in heaven. We shared
a portion of vegetables, all roasted
and caramelised, and we drank a bottle
of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 1996 from
Mastroberadino at Stg 17.00 a bottle.
There wasn't much room left for desserts,
but I did manage an interesting capuccino
flan, which was light and delicious.
Zilli Fish deserves to be succesful.
From the numbers of people I've already
observed crowding in there when I
went past on my way to the Rainforest
Cafe the other evening, I'd say that
Signor Zilli has come up with another
Our dinner for two
with a bottle of wine, coffee and
service came to Sg 65.00
Fish, 36-40 Brewer Street, Soho,
Tel: 020 7734 8649
Open every day for Lunch from midday to 3pm and for dinner from 5.30pm to midnight,
except Sundays. The Bar is open all day from Monday to Saturday.