Osteria Basilico is arguably the most well-established of a clutch of Italian neighbourhood bistros on Kensington Park Road, just parallel to Portobello Road.
The area isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Kensington Park Road on a summer night (with this place, Mediterraneo, E&O, Montgomery Place and several others) has a true international buzz to it. It’s certainly one of my favourite little pockets of West London, especially on a balmy evening.
It’s a pretty standard place serving Italian staples and comfort food, ranging from a compendious selection of pizzas and pastas to some serious meat dishes. The menu is a little broad to the point of unwieldy but this place has been here for 20 years so they’ve pretty much mastered it all.
Authentic enough in terms of décor, staff and menu, the buzz is really the draw card here. Loud, smug and sybaritic, it’s a place where the food is familiar and consistently fine, but the boozing and social scene define it. Many will find it hateful, but then they probably wouldn’t find themselves round here anyway.
So what did we even eat? Without going all AA Gill, I was with a group of Mancunians so all I can truly recall is prosecco bottles, house red and a lot of competing with the Notting Hill decibels.
Fritti misti spookily resembled a plate of beachside holiday food. Escapism is no bad thing on such a freezing February evening.
Fettuccine with veal ragout was smooth and creamy, and there was a lot of veal. However I would have preferred this as torn pieces or chunks rather than mince. These days, you can’t move for a duck, pheasant or wild boar ragu, so serving the veal minced seems a retrograde step. I could buy that at Waitrose!
Still it was incredibly satisfying, a big bowl of steaming pasta on these winter nights has to struggle to not hit the spot.
I’m afraid I have no idea what this is:
Veal Milanese was huge – two cutlets served with salad and artichokes. Delicious.
Osteria Basilico is a fun little place. If you like your neighbourhood restaurants loud and your wine flowing, it’s definitely for you.
Sure, the clientele are not the most modest you’ll be subjected to and it may not win any awards for originality (should it need to at 20 years old?) but it’s charming, lively and difficult not to have an enjoyable meal here. Notting Hill doesn't get the headline grabbing openings too often, but it's got its fair share of dependable stalwarts.
Food – 6/10
Drink – 7/10
Service - 8/10
Value – 7/10
Tap water tales – 8/10
Staff Hotness – 6/10