Sitting a short walk from Victoria Station, and the theatres showing Wicked and Hamilton, you’ll find Italian restaurant Tozi. Angelica’s iconic cries of “he will never be satisfied!” have no place here though: Alexander Hamilton would find a fine fill of incredible food and faultless service if he visited this restaurant. Forget your everyday dalliances with Italian dishes – the takeaway pizza, the ready meal pasta – Tozi serves up authentic cicchetti-style plates (sharing small plates) and moreish Italian cuisine. You’ll fall head over heels in love with your meal, just like the characters do with one another in the black and white films projected on the restaurant’s wall.
Tozi’s ethos is a dedication to the enjoyment of food and wine, and when engaging with the staff, you can tell they take pride in the restaurant’s heritage. Tozi means “group of friends” in Venetian slang, so grab your pals (or your colleagues, or partner – we saw many different group types on our visit), and take a seat for some of the most impressive Italian dishes you’ll find in London. Yep, bold claim, I know, but I mean it with all my heart stomach.
The food at Tozi
Although the head chef hails from North Western Italy, the menu at Tozi features dishes from all over the country. It is recommended to choose at least three or four plates each from the menu, spanning raw, fritti, salad, pasta, soup, grilled and baked dishes. Each plate comes out as and when it’s ready, apart from the large plates, which are served once all of your smaller dishes have been devoured.
On our visit, we opted for a few dishes from the main sections, plus a large plate. The staff bring you a selection of bread and olive oil to start, and seemingly in a flash, your small plates join them on the table – the service is quick, even on a busy evening. The calamari fritti was lovely and crispy, yet not overly battered, making way for a good amount of squid, while the tuna tartare was light and refreshing. The jewel in Tozi’s crown though was most definitely the maccheroni and pork cheek ragout, served with porcini and sage. If you ordered a few each not to share, I wouldn’t judge; in fact, I will do the same on my next visit. The maccheroni is made fresh – as is all the pasta at Tozi – and cooked just right, and the pork is gorgeously flavoured and soft. Every mouthful was sensational.
Luckily (or unluckily, depending on what way you look at it), we stopped ourselves from ordering second/third/fourth helpings of the maccheroni as our large plate arrived: chargrilled wild sea bass, served with salsa verde. We added a side of roasted potatoes too. The sea bass is served with a flourish: the full (cooked) fish is presented, then graciously prepared in front of you, as staff remove the inedible bits. What you’re left with is ridiculously soft and succulent fish on a delightfully crispy skin. Absolutely delicious.
If you’ve got room for dessert, there’s a whole menu comprising not just sweet dishes, but also dessert cocktails and dessert wine. We opted for the Giandula delice, with hazelnut praline and chocolate crumble, and the pistachio tiramisu. Our knowledgeable host advised the first dessert comes from Torino (Turin), home of the Ferraro family; and you can tell from the sweet, nutty flavour. The pistachio tiramisu left us lost for words: just saying it was sweet, light, and had a great balance of flavour doesn’t do it justice. Although we didn’t try it ourselves, the host disclosed to us that the cherry tart reminds him of his grandmother’s cooking, so if you are a fruity dessert kind of person, this may be the way to go.
The drinks at Tozi
As you enter Tozi, the first thing you see is the bar; and this is pretty poignant as the cocktails were terrific. You can choose to prop up the bar on a stool before or after your meal, or have drinks brought over from the bar to your table. We tried the Penicillin at Tozi, which had distinctive margarita-style vibes, and the Big Mike, a more light and refreshing option. Our fave was the Peruvian Connection though: sweet and smooth, it almost went down like a soda.
If cocktails aren’t your thing, the wine list at Tozi is extensive – it’s an Italian restaurant, after all! The menu spans whites and reds from various wine regions across Italy, and your host will be able to recommend a wine that suits your palette best. Staff will fetch your wine from the impressive, high-up wine cages situated around the restaurant. Alternatively, Italian bubbly and beer are also available – we tried the natural, unfiltered Ichnuso from Sardinia, which has previously been lauded as the best lager in Europe, and rightfully so. It was very smooth.
Our visit to Tozi was exceptional: whether you visit for a long Italian dinner and catch up, or a concise pre-theatre menu bite, you’re in for a treat at this restaurant. Despite the large size of the venue, you still feel as though you’re at an intimate dinner with your group, and the charismatic staff only add to that feeling. The prices are fairly reasonable (especially for a treat), which is lucky, as the food and drink will make you want to return sooner rather than later…