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January 16th, 2012

TINELLO (Pimlico)

 TINELLO (Pimlico)


Category: Bistro – Brasserie (££-£££)

green traffic5 150x150 TINELLO (Pimlico)

It is a hard job to be an amateur restaurant critic.  Always rushing off to the newest openings, which means, thanks to the new non-booking trend, queuing for hours in the cold, eating mediocre food in places hyped for inapprehensible reasons and then there is the constant fight against personal bankruptcy, alcoholism and obesity.

Every zealous amateur restaurant critic needs a restaurant to rest, to regain his/her strength and to put the cornucopia of often questionable food trends into context. Shortly, a place that constantly delivers, that doesn’t annoy, that doesn’t instigate rants, doesn’t rip off, that you can get a table at reasonably short notice and that doesn’t include the service charge into the bill (I will forgive the overfilling of wine glasses in this instance). One of my foodie refuges is Tinello.

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Delicious Olive Oil @Tinello

Located a 5 minutes walk from Sloane Square in an area with a high-density of overpriced and underdelivering restaurants, Tinello stands out.  Even though it has put up its prices up quite a bit recently, you can still have  a starter (from the ‘Small Eats‘ section) and a pasta main for well below 20 pounds.

And the food is excellent.  I respect and admire that it follows the Italian principle of less is more – few, high quality ingredients expertly prepared, clean and simple flavours and unfussy presentation.  It is easy food, comforting food and food that makes you feel at home.  In the end Tinello serves authentic, non-anglicised Tuscan cuisine, difficult enough to find in London!

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Crostini con il “fuagra” toscano (1.95) @Tinello

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Prosciutto toscano (3.30) @Tinello

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Burrata e melograno (3.2) @Tinello 

Well done for the ‘small eats’ section of the menu. The size is that of a starter really, so you can share 3 between the 2 of you if hungry, but if you are on a budget you get an absolutely decent starter for less than 4 pounds! That’s amazing value for money and something that more restaurants should embrace.

I have a weakness for crostini with Toscan chicken liver.  The Tinello one (1.95) hit the spot – rustic and earthy, coarsely chopped liver served on toasted, crispy and thinly sliced ciabatta.  A simple but wonderful dish was the creamy Burrata  (3.2) with pomegranate seeds and some slices of ciabatta sprinkled with aromatic olive oil.

Nice also that you can get a small portion of Italian prosciutto (3.20).  I like a few slices of prosciutto – unfortunately most Italian restaurants only offer huge platters with all kinds of Italian meats and cheeses – usually too filling far too filling as a starter.

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Mezzi paccheri “Pastificio dei campi” nduja e burrata (13.50) @Tinello (half portion)


 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Medaglioni di cervo, zucca, crescione e nocciole piemontesi (24) @Tinello (half portion)

Tinello does a very customer and blogger friendly thing (this alone is reason to go back and back again). The waiter was aware that we intended to share our dishes (usually we swap half-way through each course, this is your sad fate when dating a food blogger) and offered to serve the pasta dish and then the main divided onto 2 plates. Maybe more restaurants would do this, I never thought of asking. I love it because it means you get one more course, you can keep your plate and it prolongs the pleasure.

The pasta course (13.50, 9.50 as a starter portion) was again agreeably simple and very delightful. Home made al dente pasta tubes came with a spicy and savory tomato sauce topped with chilled and creamy burrata offering a winning polarity of hot and cold, spicy and fresh, velvety and doughy.

I can’t hold back with my praise also regarding the main course. Pink and tender venison  was served on a bed of pumpkin swimming in a beautiful and rich sauce.  What made the dish not only very good but special were the hazelnuts which went surprisingly well with the strong meat.  A good idea also to add some watercress for freshness and colour.

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

Torta alle pere e mandorle, gelato allo yogurt (6.5) @Tinello

Finally something that did not completely convince: The pear tart with yoghurt ice cream (6.5) was perfectly edible but did not play in the same league as the previous dishes. Too much dough, not enough pears and I didn’t think the yoghurt ice cream and the tart were a very good match.

 TINELLO (Pimlico)

A lot of red wine @Tinello

The waiters are friendly and have opinions on food and wine and are not afraid to share them. Service charge is not included. The wine list is reasonably priced. I am sure there are places that are more exciting, more experimental, more sophisticated but sometimes all I want is my safe foodie refuge, and with Tinello I found it.

  • Food: 8/10
  • Service: 8/10
  • Ambiance: 7/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Chances of Returning: 100%
  • Verdict: Apart from Zucca, my favourite Italian in London. Food that’s good for the soul.

biglink TINELLO (Pimlico)

Other Italian restaurants worth checking out are Zucca and Zafferano.  Do not even think of going to places such as Sale e Pepe or Oliveto, and if you go don’t say I haven’t warn you.

10 comments to TINELLO (Pimlico)

  • MY HEART BLEEDS! for every amateur restaurant critic who had to have this dinner. Nein im Ernst das sieht soo wahnsinnig gut aus. In London hat’s echt tolle Italiener.

  • fede

    Hi Ute,
    it is always a pleasure to read your posts….and they are really inspiring! Tinello will be my next culinary step!
    Actually Luca and I managed to get a table for Zucca for the beginning of February. It ‘s been ages since we decided to try it..but we were always late in booking. We have got in now for february and after that one we will try tinello!
    Take care!

  • I love your opening paragraph especially the part about the fight against bankruptcy, obesity and alcoholism – yes I can relate to that! Strangely enough Alice at American in London and I had a very mediocre meal at Tinello but we are the only people I have heard of who did not love it so I can only hope we had an off night.

  • I actually heard different opinions on Tinello, but this time it does sounds definitely good, and honestly I’m impressed about those “half-portions” which are perfectly fine for me.
    Good luck with your fight against bankruptcy and obesity, sometimes I love running the same risks! :)

  • Ute

    @Ilse – :D I know, I am really suffering!

    @Fede – Thanks Fede! I hope you enjoy Zucca as much as me. They put the prices up recently I heard, hope the value for money is still good. I am looking forward to hearing an Italian’s opinion on Tinello and Zucca xx

    @Gourmet Chick – Oh what a shame you didn’t like the food at Tinello (I just read your review and I understand…). I have been 4 times in the last 6-8 months and it has always been good. Maybe they just needed some time to iron out their mistakes, I saw you went more than a year ago.

    @Katia – I agree, opinions about Tinello are mixed. I went a few times now and it always delivered, they appear to have a few off nights though (see Comment Gourmet Chick). I would be intrigued to hear what an Italian thinks about it, keep me posted if you ever try it!

  • Ute: You are so right re the half portioning being a good enough reason to visit. Food and place looks great – will definitely look to try sometime in coming months. Was in Florence / Tuscany last summer and your post has just reminded me I have a stackload of photos I’ve yet to organise n edit! Tx for sharing this (and for the follow on Twitter)!

  • Ute

    @Guan – Tuscany *sigh*, I am sure you had a great time and came back 3 kilos heavier? Let me know what you think of Tinello should you give it a try. Shame they got more expensive recently, before it was a super bargain.

  • gry

    i am pleased to see that you had a lovely evening at Tinello. We were four friends whom went to this restaurant and the overall experience left us feeling disappointed. The food and service were not up to standard. Instead I think Zucca is clear front runner, along with Bocca di Lupo and the lovely Trullo. Perhaps it is time to give Tinello another go…

  • Ute

    @gry I am sorry you didn’t like Tinello. I agree with you though, Zucca is still the best. Have been wanting to try Trullo for ages, so hard to get a reservation. I should renew my efforts though, thanks for the strong recommendation.

  • [...] Head on over to Gourmet Chick, One Man’s Meat, and Hungry in London. [...]

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