1 Ropemaker Street, Moorgate, London, EC2Y 9AW gattisrestaurant.co.uk
Nick goes for an Italian meal that reminds him of what lunches should be on a weekday. Long and lovely.
Fifteen years is a long time in the London restaurant world, in order to survive the fickle flows of fashion a restaurant has to have staying power. But even so when the developer’s wrecking ball comes a’calling it’s time to call it a day.
Not that Gatti’s has left the City, instead last month they moved a short distance away to set up their pasta pans at the bottom of a glass-walled tower in City Point and become a hidden gem. Look through the window and you’ll just see a bar and a few tables, the restaurant proper is concealed away behind. But you’ll want to sit at that bar, or outside, to have one of their enormous glasses of champagne over ice. Included as a part of the £34.99 deal.
The fizz is new Veuve Clicquot Rich, an unusual champagne from the venerable old dear. It’s a high dosage, so rather sweet, champagne designed to be mixed. Even just served over ice it’s remarkably refreshing and actually quite sharp tasting, but you can mix in pineapple, cucumber, sweet peppers or whatever you choose to add even more interest. A bit of a bling-tastic bottle it has to be said, but a good summery alternative drink that lasts longer in the glass.
The restaurant is a pleasant room, busy this lunchtime with City folks who clearly like to lunch substantially and well. No sad desktop sandwiches for these people. The lack of windows is a bit disconcerting at first but we soon don’t notice.
I risk a frito misto; I say risk because I have had some terrible versions – soggy batter soaked in stale oil and using fish of doubtful age and provenance. I order this as a test really, which it passes easily, the fresh fish selection is in a light crisp batter sat in a cute basket formed from a radicchio leaf with a good fat luscious dollop of home made tartar sauce. There is a lot to eat; Gatti’s clearly believes in big portions for old style City appetites.
J has another classic, San Daniele cured ham with buffalo mozzarella. This is a dish again all too often done badly, it requires quality ham and the best mozzarella and it gets it here. The ham melting, the mozza firm but not rubbery. And again, large portions and he eats the lot including the bruschetta topped with tomato.
Wine for this, chosen by the charming Maitre d’, is a Russiz Superiore 2013 Sauvignon from the Collio region, floral and crisply acidic and so ideal for fried food and the rich cheese.
We both want pasta to follow, after the Prosecco sorbet palate cleanser; for me it was ravioli tautly crammed to bursting with duck meat and coated in a rich mushroom sauce. Not the most elegant looking dish, Gatti’s tend to go for substance over style which suits me, it was very enjoyable indeed and gut-busting in a good way, although the sauce could have been a little more restrained and perhaps less thick to give the ravioli a bit more room to shine.
J wallowed in a lobster linguine, the art of this dish always being to flavour the pasta with the lobster and let the actual meat play second fiddle and be a toothsome treat at at the end. It got his shirt messy but, as I cheerfully pointed out, if you leave an Italian restaurant with your clothes spotless it can’t have been a very good meal, can it?
To drink, a Barbara d’Asti, Fiulot from a well-regarded Piedmont winery. Not too expensive but a classic example of the Barbera grape and perfect with pasta.
You’d have thought we couldn’t manage dessert but we are professionals and with a bit of belt loosening and deep breaths we had a’trio of desserts’, namely a strawberry tiramisu, a chocolate mousse and a passion fruit panna cotta. This was just enough, I enjoyed the refreshment of the panna cotta but struggled a bit to finish the mousse.
To aid digestion we drank Passito Di Notto and fought back an urge to then break into song. As there were no windows we rather lost track of time, the wine of course having nothing to do with that, and were mildly surprised to find it still light outside when we emerged, stifling burps, back into the City.
It had been a trencherman’s lunch, although we had seen many ladies in the restaurant too, the kind that we’re always being told we shouldn’t have any more. Well two fingers up to that and to feen deening too. Sometimes you want a proper Italian lunch and Gatti’s I’m pleased to say is a pwopper Italian.