Judith Schrut savours the sweet life at Harry’s Dolce Vita.
In 1960, London moviegoers flocked to see the groundbreaking La Dolce Vita and experience Marcello Mastroianni’s search for love, happiness and ‘the sweet life’ on the exuberant streets of Rome. Nowadays one need not look further than its newly-opened namesake in Knightsbridge, Harry’s Dolce Vita restaurant.
Set on fashionable Basil Street, which is a mere spaghetti’s length from Harrods and lined with Ferrari supercars, the kind teenage boys take photographs of, Harry’s is a perfect place to relive the glamour, style and elegance of mid-20th century Italy.
The Vita begins the moment we enter, where we’re greeted by buzzy chatter and a flutter of waiters in white aprons and fashionable top knots who lead us past the comfortable leather-stooled bar to our cozy window table. Here, surrounded by mirrors and dark wood panelling, period photographs, posters and paintings, the ‘60s atmosphere is complete.
Our keen and knowledgeable waiter, Luigi, urges us to try his favourite cicchetti and antipasti. That includes a cracking garlic and rosemary flatbread, olives bathed in fennel seeds and lemon juice, warm chargrilled vegetables made with Harry’s own olive oil and the starter del giorno, Carpaccio di Tonno, delicate slices of fresh tuna festively dressed with vegetables, flowers and truffle sauce to celebrate the colours and textures of the Venice Carnival.
For mains I choose the chargrilled sea bass, delicious, superfresh and served simply with an original garnish of avocado, pistachio, courgette and fresh mint. My guest tells me his Pollo Milanese topped with rocket and datterini tomatoes is pretty darn scrumptious.
Other mains on offer include an interesting variety of seafood and meat, risotto and pasta dishes, and pizzas made with mixed Italian flours in a handstretched dough.
Full as we were, Harry’s Dolci looked sublime and, as presented by the enthusiastic Luigi, impossible to refuse. Thus we happily sampled the housemade Gelato and possibly the world’s best Tiramisu, stylishly wrapped in a white napkin coat and tails. Too often restaurant Tiramisu is a cliché of itself, far too sweet or far too rich, but Harry’s version was subtle and joyous— allowing us to really taste the mascarpone, espresso-soaked and featherlight ladyfingers and dark cocoa dust. And the perfect finish to a great meal? Our first encounter with Neapolitan Flip Coffee.
Harry’s Dolce Vita is at 27-31 Basil Street, London SW3 1BB and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus brunch on weekends. Find out more at harrysdolcevita.com.