Saturday dinner, 1st week of May was not so successful. Great atmosphere however, but it seems Francesco is more patron than chef, even his front of house admit his appearance in Sartoria is a little random. This service was full, but kitchen seems unable to keep up. Some things were solid such as the beef tartare, but pastachijna was cold and worryingly the signature fregola dish was totally ruined by overseasoning and completely overcooked pasta that were soggy.
Spaghetti carbonara was ‘not bad’ by London standards, but that does not really say much as there is little to compare in London. For me, I feel that the bones of the dish are missing, for one there is too little pecorino and pepper. On the other hand, the extra egg on top gives the sauce an overriding taste of yolk. The sauce is supposed to be tossed with pasta and over very low heat (over bain marie) until a kind of creaminess emerges, without the use of cream. The sauce here is much too runny, it is effectively still raw yolk and not nearly cooked enough yet to achieve the right texture. It was unbalanced, when there should be richness and tension between cheese, pepper and egg. Guanciale sliced wafer thin did not provide the fried crunch that I feel is integral to a good carbonara.
Pan-fried turbot was over-cooked, a couple of shells, some without clam inside is stingy and does not warrant the premium price tag. I also had the zabaglione and surprised to find it is now whipped full of bubbles. I quite like it in this form, it had great flavour as I remember it from L’Anima, but at the same time I also missed the creamier texture. You have a couple of spoonfuls, but all that air fills you up quickly. Recipes are classic of course, but it is the kitchen that is lagging behind. Avid L’Anima fans would find this meal merely ordinary. On this form and for these prices, Mazzei lags far behind Theo Randall, River Cafe and Locatelli. Hope it’s one-off, but I think Mazzei needs to be around more often to keep the quality of food up, or he will run the risk of fading into obscurity.