We were first introduced to the Italian concept of aperitivo during a weekend jaunt to Milan. We loved enjoying the tasty small plates while sipping on sophisticated cocktails and lamented that we couldn’t replicate our experience in London.
So, we were pleased to hear about the opening of Ritorno, a sophisticated lounge with an Italian kitchen in the heart of Chelsea specialising in Italian small plates. This 80-cover lounge is a gorgeous place to unwind with decadent cocktails and moreish nibbles in a stylish setting, while still being able to enjoy a conversation with your companions.
The décor reminded me of Roberto Cavalli's style - all sexy dark colours and opulent styling with its striking butterfly wallpaper from luxury Venetian brand Rubelli, olive green velvet chairs, and dark forest green booths, sleek black glass tables and illuminated faux marble pillars, which create a sumptuous environment. We later learned that the décor is the work of Milanese interior designer Ingrid Nardilli who used butterflies in the interior as they ‘represent lightness, beauty and elegance, which is what they'd like guests to associate with Ritorno’.
Guests can choose from 40 small plates prepared by chef Filippo Salzano, all of which use high quality ingredients and the freshest produce possible. Even the mozzarella is made using the authentic Italian method, but prepared in the UK to ensure it’s as fresh as possible.
During our visit we had the homemade artisan bread served with Lorenzo extra virgin olive oil (our new favourite olive oil); potato croquettes, fried mozzarella, arancina and fried artichoke; pan-fried Milanese saffron risotto, homemade taglioni with mini meatballs and the crispy pork belly with basil oil. All of the dishes were fresh, delicious, beautifully presented and not too heavy, which is exactly what you want when you’re enjoying cocktails as well. Being dessert lovers, we finished with the chocolate fondant, which was fab. The small plates range in price from £5.50-£10.50 and it’s recommended that two people sharing start with five small plates to share, which we found was more than adequate.
Ritorno has a wide range of innovative cocktails, so it’s worth trying a few different cocktails during your visit. The cocktails range in price from £12.50-£13.50, on par with what you’d expect to pay in finer establishments. If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, the helpful mixologists can provide recommendations to suit your tastes. With head barman Paolo Viola behind the helm (formerly of Rivoli Bar at The Ritz), you really can’t go wrong.
The Ritorno Milan Mule was a unique twist on a classic, featuring homemade clementine and cinnamon syrup, Campari bitter and ginger beer. If you’re looking for a show-stopping cocktail, however, then the Snow Kings is the only drink of choice. This winter cocktail has a white Americano base, soft hazelnut liquor foam, Mancino Bianco, Bitter Berto, Frangelico Liqueur and egg white and comes served with smoke from a burnt cinnamon stick, which is trapped in a glass dome and then wafted at the diner when presented at the table.
If you’re not into alcohol, there’s no need to feel left out as their mocktails are also sensational.
The staff here are exceptionally knowledgeable about the provenance of every item, which makes each drink and dish all the more special when you have the full back story to accompany it. Everyone at Ritorno really goes out of their way to make guests feel special, which is one of the reasons we can’t wait to go back.
For larger groups, there is a private dining room downstairs, which seats 10 guests, making it the perfect place for an intimate gathering.
This is a great place to unwind with a sexy post work tipple and nibbles.
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There's nothing more delicious in life than indulging in a sensational meal.