Visitors to the Eternal City who have followed the age-old dictum “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” will undoubtedly have tried the city’s best seafood restaurant, Assunta Madre, a place of pilgrimage for the cognoscenti in its setting near the famous Campo de’ Fiori.
But 2014 will bring its famed dishes of raw prawns or shrimps, risotto alla pescatora or tagliolini with lobster much closer to home for British travellers, when the restaurant ventures outside Rome for the first time and opens this month on London’s Blenheim Street, in the heart of Mayfair.
The authenic Italian experience seems guaranteed, with the London restaurant being run by largely the same team as the Roman one. Founder Giovanni Micalusi – known to his regular clients, who include Robert de Niro, Woody Allen, Giorgio Armani and Rafael Nadal, as Johnny – will be personally overseeing the Mayfair opening, which, he says, will serve fish flown in from Rome on a daily basis.
As much a feast for the eyes as the stomach, a huge aquarium will take pride of place in the London space, from which diners can select their desired dish, while an iced fish display means guests in the 90-seat restaurant can watch chefs preparing dishes such as ceviche. From July, a private dining room will be available for parties of up to 30 in the basement.
“Clients have asked us for years to open in London,” says Johnny, “and we are excited to become part of the industry here.”
Those in the know are already counting the days until they can sample Assunta Madre’s signature dishes of tuna tartare or shrimp gnocchi without risking life and limb negotiating the Roman traffic.