What: The latest restaurant from Italian beef specialist Macellaio RC. The now six-strong brand has taken on a former Byron on Store Street, which is a few minutes’ walk away from restaurant hotspot Charlotte Street (nearby operators include Busaba Eathai and Bao).
Who: Roberto Costa, the grandson of a famous Genoese butcher. He opened the first Macellaio way back in 2002 in his native Liguria and opened a further 15 sites in Italy before bringing the concept to London in 2012 (he became disassociated with the original restaurants in Italy but recently opened a Macellaio in Milan).
The vibe: Macellaio's fifth London restaurant is somewhat awkwardly arranged with two seating areas and a tiny semi-open kitchen. Despite the constraints of the L-shaped space, Costa has managed to squeeze in a large meat aging fridge and a butcher’s counter (theatre is a big part of the Macellaio experience; the butchers at its Union Street restaurant prepare meat on a stage). Waiting staff are dressed in boiler suits, a nod to the building's former use at The Duke of Bedford’s filling station. The slightly chaotic and idiosyncratic nature of the experience makes it feel authentically Italian.
The food: Like the other sites, the star of the show is Macellaio’s Fassona beef, which is butchered and dry-aged on-site. Sourced from Piedmont, the breed is huge and comically muscly, the result of a mutation that provides a higher lean-to-fat ratio, as well as less marbling and less connective tissue. The meat is available raw is tartares and carpaccios and in large steaks to share including rib-eye on the bone and bistecca Fiorentina (T-bone).
To drink: Costa imports his wine from Italy directly, allowing him to offer hard-to-find wines at relatively accessible prices. Store Street offers a more condensed wine list than the rest of the group that’s focused on magnums, although many are available by the carafe too.
And another thing: Macellaio differentiate its offer at each site. Its Exmouth Market restaurant is big on fresh tuna, its Southwark restaurant has within it a traditional Ligurian bakery and the Store Street site has gone for pizza. Options include Jack and the Beanstalk (charcoal-grilled vegetables, tomato sauce and herb-infused oil) and Ice Ice Baby (pecorino and black pepper). The latter is topped with ice before cooking to "guarantee a soft centre and crispy outer crust".