I’ve always been a fan of hanging out in the City. From the suits and slicked hair to the pavements clustered with pint-wielding workers, the sleek bars with wine glasses the size of goldfish bowls and business deals being struck over sushi and saki.
Manicomio City is one such venue that attracts the nearby money-makers, in amongst the work-hard-play-hard patch around St Paul’s and the One New Change shopping centre.
An offshoot of its Chelsea outpost, this three-storey deli, bar and restaurant focuses on upmarket Italian — think floor-to-ceiling glass windows, walls of stark white, and quirky design touches, such as the eerie black figurines running up one wall.
Service is seamless and following the arrival of rosemary focaccia with fruity olive oil, we were handed the menu — a smorgasbord of classic and creative Italian dishes, from minestrone to tuna carpaccio, oxtail parpadelle, to swordfish with blood orange and olives.
My starter of burrata was beautifully creamy and soft, and a no-brainer for tried and tested dishes with an accompanying tomato salad. The anchovy toast, meanwhile, added a much-needed crunch, though it would’ve benefitted from a couple more slices. My dining partner’s charred octopus salad was a triumph. We could’ve been sat al fresco on a Puglian terrace during a balmy summer’s evening, so fresh was the octopus.
I’d struggled to pick a main, but the pork chop — a thick cut, chargrilled and coated in salsa verde — proved a great choice. The meat was juicy and soft and there was a huge amount served, while my dining partner’s lamb with girolles was standout.
Finally, a dessert of bitter chocolate delizia with salted almond torrone, dulce de leche and sour cherries, was as rich, decadent and as exquisite as it sounds. And yes — I did eat the entire thing.
For fine Italian, in polished, city chic surroundings, Manicomio City’s foolproof formula is a surefire hit.
££: Around £10 for starters, £18.50-£32.50 for mains.
More info: 6 Gutter Lane, London, EC2V 8AS.