Harry’s Dolce Vita only opened its doors in December but it already feels like a neighbourhood bolthole. The thriving all-day restaurant is the latest venture from Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings, the group behind the venerable Daphne’s, Sexy Fish, The Ivy and Harry’s Bar – a sophisticated members’ club in Mayfair from which this new venture takes its cue.
The result is an intimate Italian restaurant with luxury club-like touches. Wood-panelled walls are lined with black and white photographs of Sophia Loren, while Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole croon in the background. Attentive suited and apron-clad waiting staff confidently run the show, unfurling monogrammed cloth napkins and ensuring no glass is left dry. There is a gleaming central bar, serving the best Bellini and Negroni cocktails in the neighbourhood.
Harry’s Bar holds the same appeal as the buzzing Ivy Brasserie restaurants, balancing comfort and glamour at reasonable prices. The Ivy’s popular zucchini fries are on the menu, accompanying Italian dishes such as crab and scallop ravioli (supple and creamy) and breaded chicken or veal Milanese, generously baked with rich buffalo mozzarella.
Dining is intimate, akin to a narrow carriage, and is built for people-watching. The crowd, as one might expect from a restaurant next door to Harrods, is an international and well-heeled set. Shoppers and media-types recharge over cocktails while the local Knightsbridge set catch-up over calamari and customers take off in supercars.
Save room for pudding, with decadent highlights including overflowing sundaes and the already Instagram-famous Toadstool dessert – a mound of mascarpone and fresh raspberries cocooned in a decorative white chocolate mushroom, served with warm pistachio sauce.
For this project, Caring set up a new company, Harry’s Bar Restaurants Ltd., and has hinted at rolling out further Harry’s Bar outposts across London and the UK. If Harry’s Dolce Vita is the first helping, then line me up for seconds.