Opposite Harrods and amidst many supercars and Chanel handbags, you’ll find Harry’s Dolce Vita, the newest offering from Richard Caring and his Caprice group. I have dined at a few of his other venues in the past and sort of knew what to expect. Nothing however, prepared me for the woman that was sprawled on the floor next to me table. No, she wasn’t drunk and neither was the floor wet. The tables are just so squashed together and the walkway connecting the restaurant to the toilets and kitchen is so narrow that she simply didn’t have room to manoeuvre herself and subsequently went flying over a wine bucket. How a big burly waiter balancing a tray full of food and overpriced wine manages it, I will never know.
Thankfully, the food here has not been influenced by the interior designer and is a joy to eat. The menu is full of all the Italians classics you’d expect and of course a section dedicated to truffle. I mean, can you call yourself an Italian restaurant in London if you’re not serving an overpriced pasta dish topped with shavings of the magical ingredient?
The burrata (another London staple) comes served inside a bell jar, reminiscent of the ones you used in physics class back at school. This is to keep in the rosemary smoke that the cheese is infused with. As it comes to your table, the jar is lifted in dramatic fashion and swirled around so that your nose can eat first. The cheese is fresh and creamy, and at £10 is cheaper than you would expect given where you are. Every bite gives you a hint of rosemary without being overpowering. It’s a very clever thing indeed. I clearly couldn’t get enough of the rosemary as I paired the cheese with the garlic and rosemary flatbread. These came served in a little basket and as a generous portion.
Pizza on a menu in a ‘proper’ Italian place is not something you see all too often but the food scene in London is such that you have to branch out and be different. The dough is left to prove for 72 hours and then topped with the finest ingredients. I always believe that in order to fairly judge a pizza, you should stick to a margherita, or in this case ‘Harry’s Margherita’. San Marzano tomatoes add a sweetness to the sauce and the hunks of fresh mozzarella melt as you work your way through. The crust is dotted with burnt spots which for me is exactly how a pizza should be. At £14 it is expensive for a pizza but considering that the equivalent at Pizza Express down the road is only £2 cheaper, you realise it’s not all that bad.
The tagliolini is meant as a starter but it suffices perfectly as a main. Served in a brass pan and scooped into your plate tableside, it isn’t the most attractive dish but what is lacks visually it makes up for in taste. Think rich, decedent creamy pasta laced with truffle and gratinated before serving to give additional crunch and texture. One to avoid if you’re on a diet and also if you’re looking for something sophisticated. This is in essence an alfredo pasta made posh.
Although just a cicchetti, the zucchini fritti are absolutely massive. Two very hungry people struggled to get through half a portion and I really think 1 between 4 is more than enough. Whether the wooden bowl, reminiscent of a souvenir store in Rwanda, they are served in is entirely necessary or not i’m not too sure.
HDV is famed for the toadstool dessert. As with the truffle, if you don’t have an Insta-worthy dessert that will draw in people regardless of whether they actually want to eat it or not, you’re doing something wrong. Unfortunately, a combination of time constraints and also eating an excessive amount of the fritti meant that no dessert was had. The table next to me however did eat it and given that we were so close I practically ate it too.
Is HDV my favourite Italian in London? No. For me it is too pretentious and just tries too hard. I will go back and try some of the other vegetarian options on the menu such as the conchiglie al forno. Till then, Signor Sassi and Scalini remain my firm favourites.