There’s something special happening in Ravenscourt Park with the arrival of Andy Needham’s new restaurant L’Amorosa, says Sudi Pigott
Ambrosial burrata with aubergine caponata followed by the best pumpkin ravioli ever, sublime in its silken texture. Who knew such gastro rhapsodies could be newly found nestling cosily on the Ravenscourt Park stretch of King Street? Chef, long-time resident and owner of brand-new restaurant L’Amorosa Andy Needham must be the most popular man in the neighbourhood right now.
And what a dream culinary CV he has. He started out at The Savoy working for Giorgio Locatelli, before moving to Aubergine with Gordon Ramsay’s launch team, even before it had a Michelin star. He then went on to open the iconic Belgravia restaurant Zafferano where he remained head chef for an impressive 15 years and held onto its Michelin star.
Like many top chefs, Andy always dreamt of a place of his own where he could serve his impeccable Italian food in an informal setting to really reflect his personal style and appeal to a wider range of Italophile foodies. The new restaurant is on the former site of popular cafe Lola and Simon, though much has changed internally, with beautiful Osborne & Little wallpaper and pictures made from a gorgeous textile that hung in Zafferano.‘We cut up the textile and turned it into art, so there’s the real sense that the spirit of Zafferano remains with us,’ he explains contentedly. The prices for food – which is easily comparable to that at The River Café, one of Needham’s own favourite ‘treat’ destinations – is an astonishingly good steal. Starters range from £7-£9, mains £11-18 and desserts £6-£7 .
Cooking seasonally may no longer make headlines, but it remains the guiding force of Andy’s cooking. ‘It is joyful and so pleasing. So coming into the winter, I’ll be using lots of root vegetables and serving slow-cooked meat dishes: salt marsh lamb shoulder with hazelnut crust, and hearty fish dishes including cuttle fish with potatoes and taggiasche olives. I don’t see why anyone would cook any other way,’ remarks Andy with evident satisfaction.
It is game that really excites his passion at this time of year – it is looking to be a fanatastic year he predicts. He buys locally from fantastic butchers Macken Brothers on Turnham Green Terrace and John Stenton in Brackenbury village, and is also a fan of greengrocer/deli Natoora. Andy is a great believer in shopping locally and frequents the local farmers markets. He uses The Slow Bread Company, under the railway arches at Stamfod Brook for his bread, though focaccia and grissini are made in house. Favourites for dining out besides The River Café include La Trompette and a couple of pubs well-known for their laidback gastro approach: The Anglesey Arms and The Roebuck.
Andy and his wife Lynn (a DJ agent who also has a restaurant in Ibiza run by ex Marco Pierre White sidekick Tom Payne) are locals and have lived in the neighbourhood for many years. Most unusually for a restaurant of Michelin calibre, L’Amorosa offers tea and coffee plus a tempting selection of brownies, cakes and sandwhiches thoughout the day, and many of their customers first pop in for coffee during the day and return for supper in the evening. I very much like this unstuffy, all-welcome approach which appears to be paying dividends immediately. ‘I’ve seen some guests eat here twice in one day, even Fay Maschler,’ reveals Needham proudly, ‘and we already have regular diners coming in once a week.’
L’Amorosa has barely been open a month, and already Andy and his wife are looking to take over the vacant next door premises to give more room for their coffee offering, which incidentally, is a Climpson coffee blended specially for L’Amorosa. No detail is too small to care about according to Andy’s ethos: ‘We want customers to feel cherished and cossetted as well as beautifully well-fed without paying crazy prices, that is for me the mark of a truly good neighbourhood restaurant.’
278 King Street, Ravenscourt Park W6 9NH; 020 8563 0300; lamorosa.co.uk