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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Il Tempo, Covent Garden

"Prendiamo un aperitivo!" Well, why not? But I'm cheesed off with bars that promote the noble northern Italian tradition, only to stiff you for the desiccated bruschetta and shotgun pellets masquerading as olives left largely untouched on your plate. Times are tough, but that's really not how it should work, ragazzi! At this wine bar/ cafe off St. Martin's Lane, the concept is properly upheld between 6pm and 8.30 pm when you order a birra, limonata, (£6) glass of Primitivo or a cocktail. On one end of a counter in a very well-lit room - a Milanese mate once told me his compatriots are deeply suspicious of any food served in the kind of mole-in-a-hole gloaming fashionable in London dining rooms - dishes arrive thick and fast as if to feed an army; an army that has failed to turn up (another Italian custom) by the time we leave, however. Perhaps it'S a slow night? Now, I was never much good at recalling what appeared on the Generation Game's conveyor belt - mostly because my fantasy 70's wish-list featured a gold Ford Capri and a £10,000 voucher to spend chez Yves Saint Laurent, not Carmen rollers, a hostess trolley and a Strimmer - but I do remember complimentary home-made gnocchi slathered in good pesto, swordfish and  tuna carpaccio, pumpkin puree bruschetta, spicy salami, addictive cheese puffs, breaded mushrooms, plump artichoke hearts and the sort of cuddly toy - in the form of Il Tempo's young owner - girls who have outgrown Ken might fancy playing with. Frustratingly, bell'uomo's promised classic Italian cocktails were limited: a wholesale absence of red vermouth preventing la famiglia Negroni from putting in an appearance. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (check out Twitpics @IlTempoCovent for inspiration), this blink-and-you'll-miss-it ‘little taste of Italy’ needs explanatory signage to help pull in locals unfamiliar with the notion of il aperitivo as it is understood south of Ascona. 
48 Chandos Place WC2 7240 4179 www.iltempo.co.uk


adapted from my review for www.squaremeal.co.uk