Tinello on Pimlico Road is a joint venture between brothers Federico and Massimiliano Sali, formerly head chef and sommelier at Locanda Locatelli, the place many regard to be the best Italian eatery in London. Unlike so many of the other ‘break-ups’ in the restaurant industry that end up becoming mud-slinging matches (mostly involving Gordon Ramsay it seems) this split was a friendly one, with their former employers also taking a share in this new venture.
The exposed brick walls at Tinello instantly reminded me of Jamie’s Italian Kitchen at Westfield London; not, perhaps, the best memory to invoke, though it wasn’t the décor that was the problem at the celebrity chef’s establishment. The restaurant was relatively busy on a mid-week evening, but by no means full, yet our party of three were seated at a tiny rectangular table clearly meant for two, with an extra chair added on the side. We had made our booking some weeks in advance so it wasn’t like they didn’t have ample notice that there would be three of us, yet having to perch on the side of the table made me feel like an unwelcome last-minute addition. I was distinctly unimpressed.
To start, we shared 4 plates from the Small Eats section:
Crostini con il “fuagra” toscano – Traditional Tuscan chicken liver “crostini”
Prosciutto toscano – Tuscan prosciutto ham
Burrate e pane al pomodoro – “Burrata” cheese and tomato bread
Zucchine fritte – Fried courgettes
They were decent, but not outstanding – I’ve had better versions of all. They also suffered from a heavy hand with the salt.
If the starters were over-seasoned, the main courses were all severely under-seasoned. Linguine al gamberi di Mazara del Vallo – Linguine, prawns, chilli and garlic was dire - it was completely tasteless. I tell a lie, it had a distinctly fishy taste from the far-from-fresh prawns; tasteless would have been an improvement. Saltimbocca di vitello funghi prugnoli e patate – Veal “Saltimbocca” meadow mushroom and potatoes was bland and instantly forgettable; my selection, Bistecca di maiale, bietoline all’ olio – Pan fried pork chop and baby chard was probably the best of the lot, but still below average and very pedestrian – it didn’t even come close to matching the mouth-watering pork chop at Cambio de Tercio.
For dessert, Semifreddo all’ amaretto, gelato al cioccolato fondente – Amaretto liquer “semifreddo”, dark chocolate ice cream had an almond flavour that was far too strong and overpowering. The only dish of the entire evening that could be classed as good was the Tiramisu, but it would have had to have been the greatest tiramisu in the world to rescue the meal after what had come before it – needless to say, it wasn’t.
The wait staff, who were polite, efficient and well-trained, were probably the best aspect of the entire place.
In a nutshell...
Tinello was quite the disappointment, especially given the pedigree of the team behind it. Prices were fine but the cooking was mediocre at best, with the linguine falling well below even that unexacting standard. The kind of meal you could get (probably better) anywhere.
87 Pimlico Road, London, SW1W 8PH
Average Price: £30