Dalla Terra, 25 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, London WC2E 9AB
Our initial gut feeling about Dalla Terra, a newish little Italian wine bar/restaurant on St Martin’s Courtyard was pretty bad.
The reason being one of the waiters made us feel a little intimidated and very unwelcome, I think if we hadn’t been reviewing we would have just walked out.
Questions regarding how many small plates we should order were met with sarcasm. Staggeringly when we asked which wine the waiter recommended he shrugged his shoulders, wine is what this place is all about! We were after some Puglian wine but they were all out apparently. We were also snootily asked what price range we fell into, as if judging us by our appearance, I think he felt we didn’t fit in with the suited clientele and have suitable spending power…
This is where non anonymous reviews can be tricky, we don’t know if he changed his tune because he found out we were invited guests or if he simply snapped out of his bad mood. Perhaps he’s just a bit Jekyll & Hyde.
Our other waiter was far more welcoming and friendly with the loveliest Italian accent, I think even if he’d been rude it would have sounded lovely.
After the confusion about how much to order (there are some small plates, some large, without much clarity or explanation) things improved.
We ended up having wine matches for each dish, which was a wise move as it meant we experienced a lovely crisp, dry Pinot Bianco 2009 which we wouldn’t otherwise have ordered, we tend to stick to red.
The kitchen is headed up by Araldo De Vitis formerly of St John who has created a light and simple menu. The decor modern and stylish Italian enoteca. Products you can actually buy such as wine glasses, olive oil and Fragolaceto (A rich, thick strawberry preserve with organic balsamic vinegar) adorn the shelves. A huge choice of over 180 wines by the bottle and over 30 by the glass, available to take away also, a rather glam off-license.
Marinaded cod with preserved leeks and mint £9.80 was not the kind of thing that we usually go for, we’re not big on cured fish. We’re so glad we did as it was fantastic, we devoured every morsel. A perfect fresh summery dish.
Bruschetta with Cherry tomatoes rocket and oregano £3.80 was good too. Ade’s serving with Grilled aubergine, smoked ricotta and truffle oil £3.80 was creamy yet with the subtle flavours of ricotta not overpowering the oil.
Next came a light Rosso di Montepulciano Fossolupaio red wine with our meat course. The Beef carpaccio with rocket shaved caciocavello cheese and truffle oil dressing £12.40 was something special. Melt in the mouth meat with little slivers of peppery radish and a superb Parmesan.
Confit pork fillet medallions with roasted peppers and cannellini beans £12.50 was excellent. Juicy little medallions with a slightly tangy crust. Delicious scooped up with some of the beans and roasted peppers.
Dessert was our favourite Italian choices; Panna cotta with strawberries £4.95 for me and Affogato with cantuccini £4.95 for Ade. The pannacotta pillowy and creamy and the perfect consistency, the strawberries lifted by the balsamic. Ade’s affogato was a DIY job with a lovely crunchy biscuit
Paired with a dessert wine of which we’re not usually huge fans, this one was actually quite pleasant.
I was intrigued by the Daintea slimming tea on the menu, wondered if I ordered it it’d cancel out all the calories, now that would be an incredible invention.
We were stunned at how this meal turned itself around, pleased we didn’t leave as we ended up having some fantastic food and wine. The service dramatically improved also. Despite the turnaround, I don’t know if we’d return as the risk of the initial unfriendly service was a big turn off.
25 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard
London WC2E 9AB
Tel: +44 (0)207-2408811
Fax: +44 (0)207-8365609
Nearest tube: Covent Garden