Central London

Published on April 12th, 2017 | by Ben Southwood


Tozi, Victoria

Tozi, Victoria Ben Southwood

Summary: Venetian, but not at all like Polpo


Venetian cicchetti

I almost always review new restaurants. After all, it’s pretty pointless me going along to Hawksmoor and telling a reader that Hawksmoor does good steak—and if you get there earlier than 6.45pm you can actually get a pretty cheap £25 menu. Everyone knows that already. Usually reviewers end up covering all of the better restaurants between them, and there is some pretty solid info out there on all the restaurants that end up surviving—which is usually the good ones.

But occasionally places fall through the cracks. Perhaps stupidly, I tend to assume that if I haven’t heard anything about a restaurant it’s going to be rubbish. It makes sense: I spend a huge fraction of my time following food blogs, food reviews in newspapers, new openings on Twitter, and I hang out mostly with friends who also do this. If a restaurant serves food in Kentish Town but there’s no one around to recommend it, does it really exist?

Well this time I have to apologise. Victoria is 15 minutes walk away from my work. I thought I’d been to pretty much every restaurant nearby, from the terrible Preto, to the mediocre Dim T, to the utterly sublime and perfect A Wong. Of course, this is no longer true, as restaurants like Lorne, The Other Naughty Piglets, Aster, and Hai Cenato open up, as well as branches of Bleecker St., Bone Daddies, Shake Shack and Franco Manca. But I thought I’d got a handle on all the old lags of the area.

Alas, not true. There was Venetian cicchetti spot Tozi, a stone’s throw from Victoria station just off Wilton Road. What’s more, it’s good—very good! Now, we went in for a one-week-only Piemontese menu, but we also ate dishes that regularly appear, so I figure it was representative of what they can do.

We started with cheese and ham. The cheese was amazingly powerfully flavoured, like a less dense and more crumbly grana padano or parmesan or pecorino—cheeses people too rarely eat in chunks on their own. It also had a winey flavour, perhaps unsurprisingly given that it was aged in wine. The ham—salami really—was thin slices that seemed to be dressed in oil, which is a surprisingly good idea. It was tender and coherent in a way that some Italian hams can fail on—according to my philistine opinion—when little bits of texture pop out on their own.

Two courses of filled pasta with black truffles and butter sauce followed. These dishes, unlike most of the rest of the menu, were pretty pricy for their size—£10+ for little small plates—but I suppose that makes sense given the ingredients. The butter sauce was unbelievably delicious, lightened by lemon and worth slurping up if you don’t mind the shame of doing it in public. The pasta dumplings were slithery-slick and succulent. Filling in these things never shines through and seems mostly to be for texture or nutrition. In my opinion.

Final main was basically a ribeye steak slow cooked in wine, with mash. I mean it was more complex than that but that’s what it amounted to: tender with some bite from strips of muscle fibre; rich British-feeling sauce, creamy mash. It was £11 for a small steak and size, bigger than it looks in the pic; good value for this quality.

We were invited to Tozi, and we were served very nice wine with every course, but to be honest I don’t have detailed and complex wine opinions: I just like some, and dislike others. But with dessert we were served an Italian digestif that was probably the star of dinner in general. Dessert was “chocolate & amaretto bonet” which seemed to be a sort of chocolate cake, nicely-whipped cream, and crumbled up amaretto biscuits: decent.

But this drink, pictured above, Chinato Borgogno, is the most delicious thing ever: like a mix between Campari and madeira but somehow also good. Incredible. We had a cocktail after dinner, and the drinks continued to be fabulous (though cocktails were in the now-ubiquitous £10+ price range).

I just knew their “1849”, which was a mix of Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano, Campari, Tio Pepe fino sherry, and Peychaud’s bitters, would be good. But it was actually like the greatest negroni I’ve ever drunk. Truly impressive. Though I’m not a cocktails writer so don’t expect a clever description, just drink it.

So Tozi just goes to prove that London’s restaurant scene can surprise you in all sorts of ways that you didn’t think possible. I’m just sad I’ve been missing out for so long!

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