A lush green oasis in the heart of Kensington’s busy high street with Italian sharing plates.
On a summer’s day, the interior of Como Garden (the sister restaurant of Zuaya and El Norte) can transport you instantly to Lake Como with its cream leather booths surrounding an impressive fairy-lit olive tree that takes centre stage.
Brothers Alberto and Arian Zandi’s love for Italy is evident in the menu with a broad culinary offering of dishes from not only Como, but the rest of the country as well. There’s an array of antipasti, handmade pasta dishes, meat and seafood on offer. In terms of authenticity, the Sicilian seabass is on the menu which is impressive, while there are some other dishes that caught our eye which are clearly more playful such as the chicken Milanese (ordinarily a veal Milanese). Though this is meant to be Italian tapas, the portions are on the generous side.
We started with an amuse bouche of cold cauliflower soup which had a lovely, lasting umami kick. Then came a refreshing portion of creamy burrata on a bed of rocket balanced beautifully with the sweetness and slight acidity from the datterini tomatoes. The crisp arancini with nutty fontina cheese, drizzled with honey is also a winner.
For the mains, we were spoilt for choice but managed to narrow it down to grilled octopus, ravioli with gorgonzola and marinated truffle chicken. Our favourite of the lot was the chargrilled octopus heaped lavishly with crisp potatoes and gremolata. There are few places in the city where the chargrilled octopus stays juicy and Como Garden definitely gets it right.
The other two mains that were runners up were notable dishes, with the richness of the gorgonzola in the ravioli that slowly crept in after that initial candied sweetness from the caramelised walnuts. The truffle chicken served on a generous portion of mashed potatoes and topped with black truffles, was slightly underwhelming, yet paired well with a glass of Sicilian Grillo.
With little room left for dessert, we managed a scoop of pistachio ice cream. This wasn’t any ordinary ice-cream from a gelateria, it was a rich, creamy indulgence that might tempt you to ask for another scoop. The staff are wonderfully friendly, attentive and look genuinely delighted to see diners.
Como Garden is open 11am to 11pm Monday to Sunday, booking in advance highly recommended.
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Rashmi is a journalist and a constant learner that turns her curiosity into exploring the world through food and drink. She writes features for a wide range of publications and websites including Love Food, Culture Trip, Time Out and Tonic Magazine. She lives in London with an ever-growing collection of books, steam trains and a (usually) well-stocked cabinet of single malt whisky and plenty of beer in her fridge.