If you’re in search of a restaurant in Chelsea, with the number of glitzy eateries and stylish bars and gastropubs on offer, you could be forgiven for feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the culinary choices. The new addition to the neighbourhood, Azzurra restaurant, is the latest launch by the innovative Aqua Group, the seventh in London, almost rivalling Hong Kong. Aqua’s founder David Yeo was inspired by travels in Italy, especially Sicily and the Amalfi Coast, and decided to venture into Italian seafood cuisine – but keep it close to British shores. Azzurra has one clear mantra: sustainably sourced ingredients, cooked with elegance and simplicity.
Azzurra Restaurant is a catch for Chelsea
21st November 2023
From boat to table, this new Italian-inspired British seafood restaurant from Aqua Group brings a touch of simplicity and glamour to Chelsea. Izzy Schaw Miller reports on Azzurra restaurant on Sloane Street. Picture above: the sensational Amalfi Limone, with ricotta and encased in white chocolate
Yeo is of course no stranger to the restaurant industry, having opened the doors of the first Aqua more than two decades ago. Now Aqua Group is an empire with its fine dining spread across the globe, from Miami to Beijing. Aqua Shard created great excitement for Londoners and visitors when it launched, establishing a landmark restaurant in an iconic building with arguably the best views from any restaurant in the capital.
What is the concept of Azzurra Restaurant, Chelsea?
Influenced by years of exploration along the Italian coast, Azzurra is Yeo’s latest endeavour, delivering locally caught seafood in British waters with an Italian twist to the heart of Chelsea. The interiors are impressive, designed by Robert Angell. Hints of the serene azure of the Amalfi Coast seep through the restaurant, transporting diners to the pastel-coloured and picturesque, and famed for its mouth-watering food, Mediterranean coastline. It’s a large and flexible restaurant offering booths, big tables and tables for two. Alongside the marine feel, the interiors combine deep blues and bold gold, with a grand, statement bar boasting 16 metres of liquor-fuelled length.
The Italian coastal theme shines through the cocktail offering, such as the Mediterranean Mule, Oyster Gimlet or Scroppino, while the expertly presented house white is delicate and subtle. The passionate Head Sommelier tasted 500 variations before settling on the chosen favourite.
Expect a polished service which goes hand-in-hand with a sense of journey behind each dish. Freshly caught fish, such as Grilled Dover sole (Sogliola), are prepared with care. Of five savoury courses to lap up, presented in the Bel Paese-styled Crudo, Antipasti, Primi, Secondi and Pizza Sottili, the menu’s critical ingredients are simplicity and sophistication.
What to eat at Azzurra Restaurant, Chelsea?
For a first course, relish Red Mullet bites accompanied with a homely bagnetto; Gnudi, fried ricotta and spinach dumplings, an innovative approach on gnocchi; or scallops served with watermelon and olive oil pearls. If you're after something super-classic, you could go for the Fritto Misto and a half dozen of oysters. For mains, I enjoyed Lorighittas al Polpo, tender octopus in a sans-frills, fresh tomato pasta, while my guest plumped for Cernia, a roasted stone bass accompanied by oyster stuffed zucchini flower and a tantalising shellfish bisque.
Leaving room for Dolci at Azzurra is an absolute necessity. A highlight is the pistachio Tiramisu, which marries strong, sharp espresso and a sweet, nutty, cloud-like topping, with comforting spongy finger biscotti to soak it all up. Not only does the taste sweep you off your feet, but the waiter whisks up the magic right in front of you, adding to the excitement of the occasion. We suspect there are many tiramisu connoisseurs amongst SPHERE readers, and this one combines taste with theatre. The Limone is also standout. Luscious, iced ricotta, with an Amalfi citrus centre, oozes out of a lemon-shaped dense white chocolate shell. If you want to finish off with something super-simple or are bringing children, there is an excellent take on a choc-ice.
Not forgetting an unassuming DJ setting the ambience in the corner, this new spot thrives on the glitz and glamour of Chelsea. For diners who enjoy that pairing, Yeo’s new restaurant may just be the next one to try.
127 – 128 Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9AS