What makes Café Murano stand out in terms of its pasta? "Simple," says executive chef Sam Williams. "We use super fresh eggs which have a rich yolk, as well as finely-milled '00' flour from a skilful artisan. We make our dough twice daily and are uncompromising when it comes to suppliers and staff development. Our produce needs to be the highest calibre in order for the process to be the best."
Sam has an impressive background in the industry, including roles at the OXO Tower, One Great George Street and events such as Goodwood and the Festival of Speed. She connected with Angela Hartnett (owner of Michelin-starred Murano) whilst working alongside her at the London 2012 Olympics, and soon after, plans for a casual version of the eatery were put in motion. By November 2013 the doors had opened.
How does being located in St James's add an element to the process? "It's a wonderful spot," says Sam, "we've always had a lot of regulars. I love the clientele we attract; it's a pleasure to cook here."
The redevelopment of the area has seen initiatives such as the food waste programme being implemented. "Thats really helped all the restaurants in the vicinity," says Sam.
Sitting in the laid-back yet intimate space on a Wednesday evening, there's a buzzy atmosphere, service is sure-footed and the food top-notch. Standout is a primi of al dente tortellini filled with intensely meaty homemade 'nduja. "We try to keep the dishes as authentic as possible," says Sam.
Their use of simple but exceptional ingredients shines through. "Our hand-rolled tagliolini with tuna and in-house made pomodoro is a prime example of this," says Sam. "The base consists of onion, basil and San Marzano tomatoes, and we finish it with chilli peppers, capers, anchovies and then a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. We confit the fish ourselves."
And the signature tagliatelle with sausage ragu and hazelnuts? "Tuscan rare breed pork is mixed with fennel and garlic and the sauce is made-to-order with freshly chopped radicchio (bitter lettuce), parsley and roasted nuts."
First-rate pasta is served in relaxing surroundings, but that's not all on offer. We devour our secondis greedily: blushing veal atop coco beans, dinky grelot onions and pleasingly tart dried cherries; slices of tender lamb rump, well-balanced with olives and a dollop of goat curd. Washed down with a bottle of wine from the Foradori family; a palette-awakening biodynamic red made from the grape variety Teroldego. To finish? Light and airy almond and dark chocolate cake accompanied by silky smooth amaretto gelato. Delizioso.