What: Billed as an Italian kitchen ‘without borders’, Rigo’ is a partnership between chef Gonzalo Luzarraga and high-flying lawyer-turned-restaurateur Francesco Ferretti. The Italian duo have taken a low-key site in Parsons Green, a particularly rah and leafy district of Fulham.
The name: It comes from a Piedmontese word that apparently means ‘journey of rigorous research’ and the restaurant is being billed as a culmination of Luzarraga’s experience to date, taking in his idyllic sounding childhood in Piedmont and many years of graft in top-flight kitchens, his headline posting being a long stint working for Alain Ducasse at his Monaco three-star Le Louis XV. As its chef’s Michelin-studded CV and designer red glasses might suggest, Rigo’ is about as far from a neighbourhood Italian as one can imagine with an unapologetically modern menu that will send anyone looking for a quick glass of wine and a lasagne running for the hills.
The food: Luzarraga’s cooking is resolutely high-end and he also revels in seemingly leftfield ingredient combinations, with a menu that includes the likes of porcini crème brûlée with chestnut, caramelised popcorn and black sesame as well as pluma of Cinta Senese (a DOP Tuscan pig) with oyster, scallop coral and parsnip. However this stout, bespectacled chef knows what he’s doing. His food is underpinned by solid technique and good sourcing and the cooking is less out there than the menu initially suggests. That said, Rigo’ – which is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday – isn’t a restaurant for fussy eaters. The tasting menu kicks of with canapés made from deep-fried tripe and it’s hard to imagine the Made in Chelsea crowd being overly enamoured by the chef’s signature dish of a hollowed out sea urchin filled with warm bagna càuda and cold sea urchin and quail egg, delicious though it is.
The price: Given the obvious quality of the ingredients and the chef’s pedigree, Rigo’ is not hideously expensive – set lunch starts at £22 – but it’s hardly an everyday restaurant (there’s no proper à la carte offer, despite the £56 five-course menu being billed as such). There’s also a signature eight-course tasting menu priced at £78.
Signature dish: Rigo's bagna càuda-filled sea urchin
Front of house and wine: Federico Dadone, previously of Le Gavroche and The Lanesborough, is overseeing the front-of-house team alongside Ferretti and has created his own range of cocktails. The wine list puts as much emphasis on French wines as Italian – to be fair, Luzarraga’s native Piedmont borders France – with Philipponnat champagne given far more prominence than Italian sparklers. There is a big focus on natural wine and the team has also put a lot of work into its orange wine section, with five by the glass and a number of obscure but interesting choices including a fantastic biodynamic number from Andert Wein’s tiny estate in Burgenland, Austria.
The vibe: Housed within a three-storey Victorian building, the restaurant has a modern, stripped-back feel that’s intended to evoke the aesthetic of 1950s Milan. The oak-floored space is spread across three small rooms. The first has grey tiles and an open, counter kitchen with a few stools; the second is lined with grey-blue diamond panelling, and the innermost room has been painted mustard yellow, providing a striking contrast to the rest of the space.
And another thing: Luzarraga is no stranger to the Michelin guide having already won stars for other restaurants including Italy’s Le Clivie and, just last year, Kuchlmasterei Projet in Austria. It’s clear that’s the intention here too, but he will also need to win round the locals if Rigo’ is to be a success.