Friday, July 18, 2014

The return of the Italian Restaurants 1961

From 'Minder' circa 1982 - Arthur Dailey leaving Otello's
Found in The Good Food Guide 1961-1962, this review of an Italian restaurant in Soho. It shows  how restaurants reflect London's recent history, and although this was the beginning of the swinging 60s it was written only 15 years after WW2 ('war wounds are healing.'). Otello Scipioni died recently aged 91 and the restaurant is now called Zilli. He also owned the grander Italian restaurant Villa dei Cesari near the Tate Gallery.  As the 60s progressed the Italians came to dominate the catering scene - Italian trattorias being a great hangout for the beautiful, the rich and the famous. Fortunes were made. Note the GFG's feedback system -- the names at bottom being unpaid food enthusiasts who had written in - the bit about singing waiters is probably a quote from one of them them. Longo Intervallo = long gap.

TRATTORIA DA OTELLO
41 Dean Street, London W.1. 
REGent 3924

The gastronomic map of Britain or at any rate of London, reflects longo intervallo – after a decade or so to be more definite – the political history of our country, and even its campaigns. Before the war, there were a number of French restaurants in London, but Italians dominated; after Mussolini had shown what Italian Fascism thought of us, the Greek restaurateurs drove the Italians from Soho street by street. Cypriots, those unquestionably Empire citizens, reaped the richest harvest. Now, it may be because of Eoka, or just because war wounds are healing, but for whatever reason, authentic Italian trattorie are springing up, and among the best is this, run by Otello Scipioni, who spearheaded the return of the legionaries. 




It has none of the nonsense of 'special uniforms' and so on ('though sometimes a waiter may burst into song') and it does pay attention to the cooking.

All prices are à la carte. Order these dishes: Lasagne Reale (4/6), fritto mist della mare, risotto allaoVastese (3/6), osso buco or kidneys, and consider also the mozzarella in carozza and the scaloppini Don Camillo. Full license: 11/6 carafes of red, white and pink wine from Signor Otello's family vineyard (2/6 a glass) and 24 other Italian wines from 15/6 to 23/-; other countries' wine treated with explicable disdain. Open every day except Christmas and Boxing Day lunch, 12-3 and 6 - 11.30. (App. Dudley Collard; Oswald Gill; V.Gordon;Maurice Elvey; Margit Owen; M.D.P. Webb)

Recommendations cannot be accepted from anyone connected with the hotels concerned.

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