When selecting a location for a pre-show dinner, there’s no better choice than within the venue itself, particularly when it sits inside one of the world’s most historic buildings. The venue in question is the Royal Albert Hall, which houses the charming Verdi Italian kitchen.
On arrival, the room is buzzing as the public tuck into their Italian dishes and eagerly await the evening’s show to begin. Large domed lights, reminiscent in shape to the iconic venue, beam down onto tables creating a theatrical setting. As the dishes are devoured and the show is announced, there’s a sudden exodus of people into the main festival hall leaving the non-ticket holders, like ourselves, to dine in peace.
The service is extremely friendly and all waiters are clearly passionate about the food and wine they serve. They all proactively give recommendations and make us aware of new offerings. The menu is impressive with its fresh approach to Italian cuisine with unique combinations and quality ingredients to reflect the opulence of both the venue and the surrounding area in South Kensington. The Italian touch of wrapping prawns in pancetta is a prime example where it exceeds expectations. The addition of chargrilled lemon gives bite and compliments the citrus aromas of the Ancora wine, a Pinot Grigio from Pavia, northern Italy.
Following the starters, it seems only appropriate to follow the nautical theme and move onto a rather unique offering: Pizza with smoked swordfish, smoked anchovies, black olives and pistachio pesto. I’ve eaten some unusual combinations in the past but this pizza stands out from the rest. The rustic stone baked pizza gives more of an authentic Italian experience and the array of colour on the topping is particularly inviting. Initial impressions indicate too much salt however the pesto balances it out well and it turns out to be an excellent choice.
After such an indulgence, I opt for the smallest pudding available and I’m certainly not let down by my choice. Little balls of choux pastry arrive with the most incredible soft vanilla and chocolate centres.
Booking tickets to see live music would have really been the cherry on the top, however it soon comes to our attention that live jazz takes place in the restaurant every Friday lunchtime and evening. Likewise if you fancy whittling away your Saturday morning indulging in brunch and listening to live music with a Bloody Mary in hand, this is the place to be.