Italian food has a special place in my heart, given how much I adore anything laden with carbs and cheese. When I asked for recommendations for a new Italian restaurant to try in London, everyone offered the same answer – Harry’s Dolce Vita, for an authentic, romantic experience. Harry’s Dolce Vita is located next to Harrods and can carry a price tag to match – but the food is delicious, and it wasn’t as expensive as I had feared.
The Menu and Drinks
As with all new restaurants, I couldn’t wait to see the menu and had spent far too long looking online and debating on my dishes before I arrived. It gives a variety of options – meat, fish, pizza, pasta – alongside a seasonal menu, which was Black Truffle for us in February. Even after looking the menu up in advance, absolutely everything took my fancy.
The cocktail menu is perhaps less extensive than other restaurants of this calibre, but it had exciting options nonetheless. I had an Italian G&T – Occitan gin, olive, rosemary, lemon zest – which was pleasantly yummy. P opted for a very manly 21st Century Bellini – with the peach juice in iced spheres for a modern twist – which was refreshing and not overly sweet.
Quite simply, everything we ate at Harry’s was delicious. To start, we ordered truffle arancini and zucchini fritti, which are thin strips of battered and fried courgette with a side herby yoghurt dip. Both dishes were delicious, and actually quite filling – perhaps we should have chosen just one, but we were feeling indulgent – and they were served very quickly, hot and fresh. I could happily eat arancini (of any flavour) all day long but I hadn’t yet eaten truffle arancini that was quite so deliciously decadent.
For our main courses, I was very tempted by the aubergine parmigiana or the black truffle risotto from their seasonal winter menu, but I caved and went for my staple favourite – steak. Harry’s Rib Eye, cooked medium rare, was lovely – but I did regret not choosing something more adventurous. It was well cooked, just underwhelming. I ordered a side of rosemary and garlic fries and seasonal greens, although just one side would have been more than enough. P ordered bufala and pesto pizza, which smelled heavenly and I assume was delicious given he didn’t even let me try any – it disappeared in mere seconds.
For dessert at Harry’s Dolce Vita? It has to be the famous Harry’s Toadstool, their signature dessert that is regularly snapped for social media sharing. Given its hype, I almost felt a little too obvious ordering it, but I was curious to see if the taste lived up to its reputation. It’s a white chocolate toadstool shell filled with mascarpone mousse, on an iced vanilla parfait stump with pistachio crumb, fresh raspberries and a warm pistaschio sauce. It’s beautiful, incredibly popular and absolutely worth the hype. Totally delicious. Expensive, at £10 a plate, but I thought the cost was justified in that it’s a substantial dessert (more than enough to share) and it’s clearly the product of time and care.
The atmosphere at Harry’s is lively and vibrant, and during our visit it was a nice mix of tourists and Knightsbridge locals. We had booked online in advance, and I had been warned how difficult it was to get a table last minute – this definitely doesn’t seem to be a restaurant you can just turn up to and cross your fingers for a table. It’s relatively small and a narrow restaurant, which gives it a lovely, intimate feeling – but, as we discovered, all it takes is one loud table drinking too much Laurent-Perrier to dominate the space.
For our booking we were allocated 1.5 hours – but we didn’t feel rushed at all. Except when eating our starters, our mains arrived very quickly afterwards and it was a momentary puzzle to rearrange our food and drinks on a relatively small table. Intimate dining indeed, given we had food piled high. Luckily it was all delicious.
4/5 Stars – Delicious but Busy
It’s easy to see why Harry’s Dolce Vita is a favourite Italian restaurant for so many people with delicious food, a classic menu and great cocktails. It wasn’t too expensive either and we felt like valued customers, whether we were spending £50 or £500 (with our dinner coming to just over £100). But the intimate, romantic setting meant that on a Saturday night, all we could hear was a raucous table next to us rather than each other and the narrow design meant there was a constant stream of waiters and guests filing past.
I would definitely eat here again, and perhaps an evening mid-week would be less busy. I had dreaded the bill (foolishly said I’d pay) but it wasn’t too hefty, given we only had one cocktail each. My main course was lovely but underwhelming, but the pure joy of eating the arancini to start and toadstool for dessert more than compensated. 4/5 stars for this lovely renowned Italian – just book in advance.
For a little look at last food reviews, see our trip to Edinburgh here – a food, windswept weekend full of places I’d happily recommend and lots of shiny 4 and 5 star reviews.