Paradiso Restaurant – St. Christopher’s Place – review

The Paradiso restaurant story began with Olivelli’s Hotel and Restaurant which was founded in 1934. It became a magnet for celebrities as well as actors from the thriving theatres in the West End, and the haunt of students from nearby RADA. Regulars included the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Danny Kaye and Bob Hope. In 1993 the restaurant was bought by Giovanni and Salvatore Salamone. They have expanded the company and now they have three Paradiso restaurants in central London as well as a Sicilian café at Shad Thames.

I eat my way around central London. I visit the most fashionable of restaurants. I enjoy (mostly) the food from famous chefs, and my behind has garnished some of the most expensive upholstery in Britain, but my spirits are lifted to new heights when I discover a fine neighbourhood restaurant… although this one is neighbour to Selfridges on bustling Oxford Street.

Paradiso Restaurant could be overlooked by the unknowing. It’s tucked away on a car-free street just a few yards from the well-pounded pavements of one of London’s retail havens. St. Christopher’s Place is calm and classy and does indeed have the feel of a small market-town street. The restaurant facade gives no clue to the delights within. It’s Sicilian but it isn’t over-themed. It reflects more the real southern European style of tiled floors and marble table-tops.

We settled ourselves at a comfy corner table, admired the contemporary canvases and surveyed the menu. It’s extensive and offers some traditional favourites such as Melanzane Parmigiana – baked aubergines with mozzarella and tomato sauce, as well as Spaghetti Bolognese, but the menu was no worse for those inclusions. There were plenty of dishes that are less frequently offered. Costolette D’agnello Al Vino Rosso – succulent lamb cutlets simmered in a sauce of red wine, thyme, olives and vine tomatoes, and Filetto Di Salmone Al Pepe Rosa – created by the Paradiso chefs, a salmon fillet in a pink peppercorn sauce. We are reserving these for our next visit.

Calamari Fritti, deep-fried squid rings served with tartare sauce, were always going to be my starter. You know by now, dear regular reader, that I am drawn to squid on every menu. It’s often rubbery and unappetizing. I wasn’t disappointed at Paradiso. The batter was pale, crisp and light. Its presentation was simple and it was moreish.

My companion chose Arancina Con Carne as his first course. These are crispy fried arborio-rice balls filled with meat ragù, peas and mozzarella served on a tomato sauce. This one was a cricket-ball sized sphere which oozed its delicious filling. A well-executed version of the popular Sicilian favourite which is so often too dry and overcooked. Nothing wrong with this version as my guest’s empty plate and contented smile confirmed.

Paradiso has a reputation for making its own, quality pasta. I chose Tortelloni Paradiso Chef’s Special as my next course. The ricotta- and spinach-filled tortelloni were served tossed in a sauce of mushrooms, dolcelatte cheese, cream and saffron. The dish was a vibrant and sunny yellow and was truly simple but deliciously tangy and a more than ample serving. The delicate pasta was exceptional and the sauce rich. I lingered over this with the waiter’s recommendation of a glass of Vernaccia Di S.Gimignano. This was the first Italian wine to be awarded a DOC and later upgraded to DOCG. This designation of quality is the equivalent of the AOC that one finds on French wines. The waiter gave excellent and informed advice.

Scaloppine al Funghi, fillets of veal cooked in a mushroom sauce, took the fancy of my guest. This was a substantial plate, and rosemary roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables were included. The meat was tender and the sauce creamy and well seasoned. The chef had not put a foot wrong all evening. Valpolicella Classico was our waiter’s suggestion for this. Aromatic, light, fruity and devoid of excess tannin. An excellent choice for the rich veal.

restaurant review paradisoIt’s difficult, but try and save space for some Dolce. Every item on Paradiso’s dessert menu including their celebrated ice creams are freshly prepared and said to be made to authentic Sicilian recipes by their own chefs. I am not Sicilian so I can’t swear that these sweets are as good as my grandmother’s back in Palermo but they are gorgeous and not to be missed.

Sicilian Profiteroles were my guest’s choice. The Paradiso management state that you’ve never eaten a real profiterole until you have tried these. They were indeed the best we have encoutered outside mainland Europe. Three large cream-filled balls of light choux pastry covered with and floating in a glistening dark chocolate sauce. Any chocoholic would have been delighted with this classic plateful.

Torta Paradiso, the house speciality – sponge, flakes of chocolate, delicate chocolate mousse and ricotta, covered with a thin layer of dark chocolate glaze, was the one for me. A visual stunner and a memorable end to a marvellous meal when served with a belting double espresso.

Paradiso Restaurant is deserving of a visit, well, many visits. Its location is amazing, a retreat from the craziness of the capital. It has great transport links, being just a few yards from Bond Street underground station. But it’s the food and the charming staff which will assure your return. We left as two very happy and satisfied diners.

The set lunch menu at Paradiso restaurant, St. Christopher’s Place is £12.95 for starter and main course
Monday – Friday until 5pm

Opening hours
Mon-Sun: 10.00am to midnight

Paradiso Restaurant
9 St. Christopher’s Place
Phone: 020 7486 3196
Visit Paradiso here


Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018