Monday, March 18, 2013

Caraffini: Fine Italian Cuisine in Fashionable Chelsea

Warm, relaxed and elegant, Caraffini has
 been serving fine traditional Italian cuisine for almost 20 years. Located off Sloane Square in London's fashionable Chelsea neighbourhood, Caraffini has been a long-standing local favourite, with a dedicated following and international reputation since they opened their doors in the mid 1990's. Caraffini’s success owes much to the skill, enthusiasm and personality of Paolo Caraffini, the restaurant's owner, who has created a talented and professional team that serves consistently excellent Italian food and wine, in a warm and inviting setting with friendly relaxed service. Not surprisingly, it's one of my first stops whenever I travel through London. 

The tranquil and refined interior of Caraffini

Caraffini's prime location on Lower Sloane Street has an inviting old world character, with its attractive exterior, large windows and seasonal outdoor dining. Inside, a tranquil elegance reigns, with its cheerful cream and blue interior, sweeping potted palms and well-spaced tables dressed in fine white table linens set very simply with classic modern wine stems and polished flatwareProfessional staff exude genuine warmth as they move seamlessly through the room, catering to their affluent local clientele.

Our lovely table at Caraffini 

The menu

Caraffini's extensive menu features an inspiring selection of antipasti, insalate, and zuppe including popular favourites such as Sardine alla Griglia, fresh grilled sardines with balsamico and olive oil, Ouva di Quaglia alla Fiorentina, poached quails eggs gratinéed on a bed of spinach, Carpaccio di Manza with arugula and parmesan with a light mustard sauce, Insalate Tricolore with avocado, buffalo mozarella and tomato, Avocado Appetitoso with mozzarella, smoked salmon, fresh crab and prawns, and classic Minestrone di Verdura.

Beef Carpaccio with rocket, parmigiano and homemade mustard sauce

Watercress Soup, the special soup of the day

'Avocado Appetitoso' with mozzarella, smoked salmon, fresh crab and prawns

A delicious array of entées include Pasta and Riso, such as Gnocchi di Patate Quattro Formaggi, potato gnocchi with four cheeses sauce, Spaghetti alla Marinara, Penne alla Vodka, Taglierini with fresh Lobster, Linguine alle Vongole, and Risotto con Zucca e Pancetta. There's also a section of Fish dishes such as Gamberoni alla Caraffini, king prawns in hot chilli with a touch of tomato served with capello d'angelo, as well as Grilled Calamari and Fresh Scallops with creamed spinach and mushrooms au gratin, in addition to a selection Meat and Fowl dishes including Pan Fried Lamb Cutlets with rosemary and white wine, Sirloin Steak with Dijon mustard and cream sauce, and Breast of Chicken filled with ricotta cheese, spinach, ham in a spicy tomato sauce. To tempt diners even further, a selection of side dishes are available such as irresistible Zucchini Fritti, creamy and silky Spinaci, fresh Legumi di Giorno, and delectable Tomato and Basil Salad.

Roast Baby Chicken with Peppers

Linguine alle Vongole

Taglierini with fresh lobster

The perfect dolci after an outstanding lunch at Caraffini must be their famous Tiramisu, which are light pillows of pure heaven. I really can't think of a more marvelous way to arrive in London after a long overseas flight, than to land in the welcoming arms of the warm, gracious and inviting staff at Caraffini. Even though we make it to Caraffini once or twice a year, Fransisco, the manager of Caraffini, always greets us like old friends — and what a grand feeling that is!

Homemade Tiramisu 

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