Fat Tony’s at Bar Termini Centrale review: an offer you can’t refuse
Top fresh pasta at very reasonable prices makes this one not to be missed
It’s hard to believe that there’s a little corner of pasta perfection just round the back of Selfridges in central London. Just a bowl of spaghetti’s throw away from any number of badly lit, pay-through-the-nose tourist traps.
But Fat Tony’s at Bar Termini Centrale, the bigger brother of the cosy Soho spot inspired by Rome’s Termini train station, is just that.
At the heart of its genius - as with most good pasta places - is simplicity. The menu is unfussy with dishes from different Italian regions inspired by founder and head chef James French’s extensive travels around Italy and an apprenticeship at Michelin starred L’Erba del Re in Modena.
The genuine nature of the experience reflects itself in the waiting staff and the bar’s convivial atmosphere. Immediately corralled by Italians in white coats and black ties to a table outside, it seemed almost second nature to order a negroni and stare into the middle distance, as if directed by Fellini himself.
Starters come and go like the support acts at a blockbuster pop concert, perfectly enjoyable but serving mainly to build the anticipation for the main event. My companion goes for a delicately oil-drizzled slice of summer in the panzanella while I settle on gently grilled succulent slices of octopus paired with nduja.
Onto the main event then. In truth choosing just two of the fresh pasta dishes on the menu is a real struggle. The dish of the moment, cacio e pepe catches the eye of course, while we hear great things from the table next to us about the paccheri, paired with guanciale and pecorino.
Eventually we settle on the tagliarine with clams, samphire, chilli and garlic as well as the pappardelle with shin of beef ragu, promising to swap halfway through - a promise that goes unfulfilled.
The tagliarine exudes Fat Tony’s simple charm - fresh, zingy and all-together too tasty for sharing. The clams are the perfect accompaniment for a hot summer’s evening, juicy but not too rich, while the distinctive flavour of the samphire is amplified by a judicious use of seasoning.
My paper-thin ribbons of perfectly al dente pappardelle are lovingly coated in the shin of Longhorn beef. This cut is a great choice for pappardelle as once slow cooked the meat has real depth of flavour, clinging to the pasta with molten fat that enriches the ragù’s decadent sauce.
As with any good italian meal there is always room for dessert though and together we finally do share something - the chocolate torta, a delectably rich denouement to the evening’s fare.
It’s impossible to recommend the dining experience enough, in short, Fat Tony’s should be on every discerning London foodie’s list. Classic Italian cooking with minimal ingredients at very reasonable prices.
Fat Tony’s will remain in residence indefinitely at Bar Termini Centrale, 31 Duke Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 1LG. Open Tuesday to Saturday 12-3pm & 5-9pm.