In an area that touts shiny and new, Signor Sassi is a bolthole of old school charm.

Found tucked away on a side street off Knightsbridge, Signor Sassi is a time capsule of a place, plating up classic Italian dishes since the 80s.

It’s somewhat of a Knightsbridge institution, so I’m told, and the story goes that a regular customer was fond enough of the joint to take it to the Middle East, where sister restaurants in Riyadh and Doha have opened, with another slated for Dubai later this year.

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I understand why you would want to replicate Signor Sassi – there is so much to like about the place - but I’m not sure how you would do it as much of the restaurant’s appeal is that it is its own thing.

The Resident: Find the Italian restaurant just off KnightsbridgeFind the Italian restaurant just off Knightsbridge (Image: Signor Sassi)

Take the building, for starters.

The almost-cornflower blue exterior gives way to a bronze and mustard warren of art deco dining rooms with gold trim and reflective surfaces. It’s glitzy yet lightly worn.

The interiors are busy in a delightfully haphazard way, as if the artwork and objects were placed in various positions over time instead of as part of an executed plan.

The Resident: The interiors are a warren of art deco dining roomsThe interiors are a warren of art deco dining rooms (Image: Zita Whalley)

Large sections of wall come mirrored and embellished with prints of Greco-Roman figures and potted ferns, while the rest of the walls are cluttered with photos of who I am assuming are staff and footballers. I wouldn’t know for sure though, the only footballers I know are Beckham and Rashford.

As part of the San Carlo group you might think Signor Sassi comes with the same curated sense of Italian style and polish as other restaurants in the group, but its gently frayed edges and broken in quality is all part of the appeal.

And then there is the staff, who are suited up professionals and Signor Sassi long timers -a sign that the place is doing something right.

The restaurant oozes Mediterranean warmth and conviviality, and this comes down to the staff who are all friendly and relaxed while being exemplary hospitality workers.

The Resident: Dishes are classic, earthy Italian fareDishes are classic, earthy Italian fare (Image: Zita Whalley)

The restaurant’s chef started out washing dishes 30 years ago. The former manager retired when the pandemic hit, aged 70 and after 30 years at the restaurant. He was replaced by Paulo, who has been at Signor Sassi for 15 years. A transient, haphazard place, this is not.

And of course, the food; timeless, earthy Italian dishes done very well.

I knew I found a spiritual home when a plate of chalky parmesan chunks arrived for me to eat along with a bowl of fat salty olives as a pre-meal nibbles. Good musty parmesan, such as the one I couldn’t stop picking at, is an indulgence to eat in solid blocks rather than slivers and shaving.

A bowl of bruschetta mix was also part of the pre-meal snacks and mine to greedily ladle out onto crisp rounds of white bread. Attempting to eat it without dribbling the olive oily brine down my chin was  nearly impossible task.

Signor Sassi’s extensive menu has been unchanged for four years, which I guess attests to its variety and standard. However the specials, which is also a rather lengthy list, rotate regularly to keep things fresh.

The Resident: Ravio tino; ricotta stuffed pasta with a bright seafood sauceRavio tino; ricotta stuffed pasta with a bright seafood sauce (Image: Zita Whalley)

From the specials, a plate of fleshy, almost creamy, scallops arrived salted and seared and perched on top of a squishy circle of spinach, surrounded by an oh-so-lightly creamy orange sauce peppered with chives.

Following this, the ravioli tino was ricotta stuffed parcels of just soft pasta which came sitting in a moat of another bright orange sauce, this one creamy with shredded crustacean mixed through, and with a crown of three small tiger prawns sitting on top.

I tipped spoonfuls of the huge side salad loaded with avocado, bocconcini balls and slivers of fennel into the sauce, the leftovers of which were mopped up by a moist thick slice of olive bread, and accompanied with a crisp cold Gavi wine. It was homespun, fresh and hearty, and the type of meal you hunt out when on holiday in Italy.

The Resident: An affogato is a simple but ideal way to end a mealAn affogato is a simple but ideal way to end a meal (Image: Zita Whalley)

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Dessert came in the form of shot of a punchy limoncello and an affogato, which again, was perfect in its simplicity.

A stroll down Brompton Road will give you a glimpse at the latest and newest everything, but Signor Sassi’s unaffected schtick outshines all that jazz.

Address: 14 Knightsbridge SW1X 7QL