How Riccardo’s was born
“I remember visiting Florence in 1994. Having learned to cook I now wanted some regional experience, and decided to start in Tuscany, where my father comes from. I always enjoyed visiting my Grandmother in Tuscany; she cooked delicious things for my brother and me and everyone adored her food.
I was staying with some good friends, and one night they took me to a little place about an hour out of town.We arrived and the room was full of people.We sat in the middle of a long table, and there were other people we didn’t know at each end.A very pleasant young man came up to us and said … “there’s no menu here … but I know you’re going to love the food … because my Mama’s in the kitchen!” … he then brought warm bread and placed a small bowl in front of each of us … he proceeded to come out of the kitchen with the food, all still in enormous pans with a serving spoon in each.We had antipasti, pastas, meat, salad and vegetables, and most were brought to us in the pan! The whole restaurant ate the same food at the same time… when he ran out of one thing, he’d go back into the kitchen and come out with another pan of a different type of pasta, or other course.
… He was right … we loved the food … it was extraordinarily good!
From this experience, the concept of Riccardo’s was born. I amended things slightly, but still in the Tuscan style of enabling each person to try a little bit of everything … and share with friends and family … and you can eat this way at Riccardo’s if you wish!
And so evolved the idea of small, starter-size dishes. Although I didn’t have my Mama in the kitchen, I went to visit as many other people’s Mamas and Grandmamas, uncles and aunts as I could find, and many had a favourite recipe they were delighted to share.They were all so helpful and welcoming, and proud to think that their ancestors recipes were being sent overseas. For example, our recipe for Ribolita has been developed from a recipe handed down over six generations of the Pracchia Signorini family of Florence and I still have a copy of the original recipe.
When I opened Riccardo’s in 1995 I came up with the idea of having a list menu … not dividing the menu into sections … no starters, main courses etc … at Riccardo’s you decide for yourself the order of the dishes … what you want to eat … no starters, no mains … just great tasting dishes in the order of your choice. Healthier foods for you and your family.”
Thank you for helping us to carry on a great tradition of serving freshly cooked, delicious home-made Tuscan foods.
The purpose is to introduce you to Riccardo’s, to our food, to the way we do things and to the Tuscan experience.
It is our aim here to explain:
- What sets us apart from other Italian restaurants in London
- What our policies and priorities are
- What you can expect from us from first contact through to ‘regular’ status in terms of service, food, choice and quality
We hope, by the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll be tempted to give us a try and to see for yourself what makes us different and what has made us a firm favouriterestaurant in Chelsea for many years (we opened in 1995).
These should be considered basic requirements by anyone’s standards.The courtesy and friendliness of our staff should always be taken for granted by our patrons.
1. THE FIRST CALL
When you call to reserve a table you will be greeted warmly, you will not be put on hold
2. YOUR ARRIVAL
When you arrive at Riccardo’s, you will be greeted at the door with a smile, shown to your table and seated
3. YOUR REQUIREMENTS
Your waiter will greet you promptly and take your order for drinks.
He or she will hand you a menu, describe the specials of the day and answer any questions you might have, especially in relation to any particular dietary requirements
4. A WARM WELCOME
Of course you should always expect a warm welcome.We are very lucky to have five key staff members who have each worked with us for between eight and twelve years, which means that our regulars can always expect to see a familiar face
Children are always welcome at Riccardo’s and we have a selection of high chairs
Our Food and Wine
6. WHAT IS “a taste of Tuscany”?
It’s the whole Tuscan experience; it’s not just about the delicious food. It’s the warm colours and the friendly atmosphere at Riccardo’s, as well as the way we serve our modern and traditional Tuscan dishes, that we hope will have you almost believing you are actually eating in Tuscany.We travel there frequently to source new recipes and ingredients as well as for educational and staff training purposes. Indeed, we regularly have prize draws to send our customers to Tuscany so that they can compare experiences.
If it is your first time with us your waiter will explain the Tuscan eating experience; it’s all to do with “starter size portions” … a little bit of everything … and sharing.There are no starters or mains, just delicious dishes to be eaten in the order you wish. For more information see ‘How Riccardo’s Was Born’ – Our Company Story
7. WHAT IS TUSCAN FOOD?
It follows the principles of ‘The Mediterranean diet’ which is widely acknowledged to be the healthiest of all. It is simply prepared, fresh seasonal produce; grilled fish, grilled, gently stewed or cured meats and fresh fruit and vegetables ripened in the Italian sun. Rather than heavy sauces we use marinades and unfiltered first cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, sage and nepitella (a rare herb used with wild mushrooms).We use almost no butter or white flour and cream is reserved for just a few desserts; the use of all ingredients, including these, are marked on our list.
Because we don’t use sauces we must rely on foods with flavour. We don’t have chefs in our kitchen who do clever things to cover up mediocre produce, we have great cooks who love preparing good food in the traditional Tuscan way…
8. WHO ARE OUR COOKS AND WHERE ARE THEY TRAINED?
Our head cooks are Italian and have been taught in Italy, at Enoteca Pinchiori in Florence (voted 1st in the category “Top 33 Restaurants in Italy”), 4 Seasons in Milan,Villa San Michele in Fiesole (voted one of top 10 hotels in the world), Cantinetta Antinori, Florence and many small family owned restaurants and vineyards.Training is ongoing and our menu evolves with the seasons and our patrons’ preferences; we try to visit Tuscany at least twice a year to keep in touch. We also photograph and film our recipes so that procedures can be replicated exactly by all our cooks, ensuring consistency in both taste and presentation…
9. DO WE MAKE OUR OWN PASTA?
Yes and we use Italian ingredients; even our organic eggs are Italian and the colour they give to the pasta is unmistakable. Our pasta is not made with refined white flour, but with golden semolina, which gives it a much richer flavour. Our cooks make the pasta fresh each morning and they learned how to make it at Zucchoni in Montecatini Terme in Tuscany, one of the most famous hand-made pasta producers in Italy…
10. IS OUR FOOD PRE-COOKED AND RE-HEATED?
No. Many restaurants pre-cook everything but ours is made to order.There is an enormous difference in the quality of a dish that has been pre-prepared and re-heated and one that is made to order. At times there may be a small wait for your food but we’re sure you’ll agree it’s worth it…
11. WITH SUCH AN EXTENSIVE MENU HOW DO WE CONSISTENTLY SERVE SUCH FRESH FOOD?
We offer a wide range of dishes containing fresh ingredients and sometimes we’re asked how we do this without compromising on freshness.The secret is in only ordering and preparing small quantities of food daily; as a result we do occasionally run out of some things before the day is through. (We very rarely have to throw anything out because we feed our staff three times a day!) Another reason for the flavour and freshness of ourTuscan Italian food and what stands us apart from other Italian Restaurants in London is that up to 95% is delivered daily from Italy – it really has almost come straight from the fields of Tuscany…
12. ORGANIC FOOD? GENETICALLY MODIFIED?
The Italians have vehemently refused to allow GM experiments and their land has remained so fertile that much of the fruit and vegetables are grown without the need for artificial fertilisers.There is already a huge movement in Italy to farm organically and as a result we are able to obtain the finest and healthiest produce for our patrons.We buy organic Italian Food whenever possible and we never cut corners on quality, regardless of cost…
13. CAN WE CATER FOR VEGETARIAN,VEGAN OR OTHER SPECIAL DIETS?
Yes.We have delicious vegan and vegetarian menus and we also have a great selection of wheat-free and gluten-free pastas. If you have any allergies or would like to know exactly what is in any dish just ask to see our detailed menu which has every ingredient listed – there is nothing hidden.We do our best to accommodate specific dietary requirements and we work closely with nutritionists to create delicious dishes that are compatible with many special diets, including wheat and dairy-free.We pride ourselves on our nutritious food, and serve organic freshly squeezed juices as well…
14. WHAT ABOUT OUR WINE?
Our wine list features a great selection of the finest Tuscan wines.These are imported directly for us by Berkman Wines, Enotria, Eurowines, Astrum, Liberty, Ciborio, and Alivini who are undoubtedly the London experts in Tuscan and Italian wines.We also have a comprehensive list from the rest of Italy. Both lists contain the top names as well as a few relatively unknown producers.We have organised a tasting menu, which allows many great wines to be sampled by the glass…
15. CAN YOU EAT OUTSIDE?
Yes.To add to the Tuscan feel of the restaurant we have a garden terrace with 30 seats, where you can sit in the sun or partial shade on really hot days – it’s perfect for summer evenings too. The terrace is covered and heated in winter…
16. NOTHING HIDDEN … OUR OPEN KITCHEN POLICY …
Our kitchen can be visited any time during the service without prior notice.
Just ask your waiter or waitress and they will arrange it for you. At times when we are not too busy feel free to discuss anything with our cooks and please ask for recipes.We also run cooking classes periodically.
17. SERVICE … FLEXIBILITY …
You’re in a hurry?
We’ll do our best to get you out in time
You have allergies?
We have alternatives
You’d like something prepared in a certain way?
We’ll do our best to help – our aim always is to give you the best service and to be as flexible as possible…
18. GUARANTEE OF SATISFACTION … OUR PROMISE
If for any reason a dish is not up to your expectations we will replace it immediately, free of charge. If you are not totally satisfied with your meal, then you pay nothing. This is our guarantee.We’ve been in business since 1995 and if we didn’t deliver what we promise we would not still be in business today…
19. DRESS CODE … JEANS AND TRAINERS OR BLACK TIE?
You will feel equally comfortable wearing black tie after the opera, a suit after the office or jeans and a t-shirt.
There is absolutely no dress code…
20. WHAT DO OUR PATRONS SAY ABOUT US?
We are pleased to show you a few unsolicited testimonials and reviews at the bottom of each page of this report, many of the testimonials have been copied from the visitor’s book by our front door…
21. WE LISTEN TO YOU!
To give one example of how customer feedback results in change:
Growing concern and awareness of healthy eating has meant that simple fish dishes have become more of a focus for us. Because of this, and our passion for mixing the traditional with the modern, we have rediscovered and adapted many Tuscan recipes using tuna, John Dory, sea bass, salmon and fresh sardines.We always have a special “fish of the day” with the best of what the market has to offer…
22. WHAT ABOUT AFTER THE MEAL?
At the end of your meal we ask you to review the experience with a customer service card (which enters you automatically into “a taste of Tuscany” contest to win a trip to Italy).We request your e-mail address on the card so that we can send you our updated menu from time to time; particularly useful if you use our take-out or home delivery service…
23. WE LIKE TO STAY IN TOUCH
For true “Tuscanados” we provide a regular newsletter containing stories and articles about nutrition and about Tuscany, including wine and the arts and some sporting events.We can also provide a weekly update of our specials of the day on request…
24. WE WANT TO BE PERFECT!
That’s what we are striving for … so please help us by telling us what we can do to make your experience with us even better. Also, please tell us what you especially like so we can keep doing it! That way, we can help you and be the best we can. All feedback of any nature is vital for us and always appreciated.
If you have any comments to make please contact Riccardo Mariti direct:
Mail: 126 Fulham Road SW3 6HU
Phone: Riccardo’s office direct line on 0207 370 0033
Fax: 0207 990 7557