By Laura Collins.
Small definitely is beautiful – and I’m not just talking about my height!
When an invitation to the opening of a new Italian restaurant landed on my lap I can’t say I dropped my cuppa in shock or excitement. There are hundreds of Italian restaurants across London so what on Earth was going to make this one any different?
After a few more sips of my tea, I took a closer look. It was then I saw that it wasn’t just an invitation, it was a launch party. Those two words make a grand opening that little bit more exciting. There is a hidden promise of a good time. Also, it wasn’t just any Italian restaurant. This particular establishment was going to be offering Italian tapas, along with the strap line “small is beautiful”.
I love tapas dishes, whatever country they are from, and I also like anybody who sees small things (including me!) for what they are: beautiful! I was sold. And I’m glad I was. Upon entering the restaurant I was greeted by an impressive spiral staircase and a stunning glass chandelier, showing me instantly that the place had an edge. It was modern but had a certain old fashioned Italian glamour to it. There was Prosecco, live DJs and dozens of tasty Italian treats on offer; the food was rather delicious too!
Assaggini is the restaurant in question. This classy little joint is located just out of the tourist hustle and bustle of Theatre Land and is well positioned on a quieter corner of Haymarket. It offers Italian small plates that are perfect for sharing, thus creating a desirable, sociable atmosphere. The idea behind the restaurant is to offer more lavish dishes in a flexible and affordable format and it does that very well. Among other titbits, I got to try meat balls, black risotto and chicken liver rice balls, all of which proved that small really is beautiful.
As well as food, Assaggini was filled with a vibrant and excitable air and the place was packed to the rafters with chic looking guests; the sort I would imagine to frequent this restaurant in the future. The busy crowd and buzzing dance floor certainly gave it an exciting energy, but it also meant the furniture was moved aside making it hard to visualise with tables and chairs dotted throughout.
Looking beyond the clouds of perfume, never ending cheek kissing, and gyrating bodies, however, I could see the restaurant’s sophisticated decor. It was contemporary, bright and colourful, proving that Assaggini draws its inspiration from New York cicchetti style restaurants. The walls are covered in vintage mirrors and thick shelves stacked high with traditional Italian food and drinks. The downstairs area seemed darker and sleeker whereas the upstairs was airy and light. On this particular evening both areas were heaving, which just goes to show that everybody loves Italian food and everybody thinks small things (and of course people!) are beautiful.
Looking for further Italian restaurant inspiration? Follow this link to find out the Top 10 Best Italian restaurants in London