Tutto is the latest venture from seasoned Brighton restaurateur Raz Helalat. You’ll be familiar with his other venues – The Coal Shed, The Salt Room and Burnt Orange – which are all without doubt icons on the city’s restaurant scene.
It’s fair to say Tutto got off to a rocky start, but I’d guess that might have been expected when plans for the restaurant only got off the ground during the depths of the pandemic lock-downs (remember them?). Head chefs and their kitchen brigades have unfortunately come and gone in a short period of time but anyone working day-to-day in the restaurant world can whole-heartedly understand – and feel the frustration and pain – of staff recruitment and retention. It’s a sellers market at the moment with some but not all employees dictating terms, which is less than helpful to an existing restaurant never mind a new one.
The concept is proudly Italian, in fact walking into the venue – the former Allied Irish bank on Victoria Gardens – you’re immediately whisked to another world. As with Raz’s other restaurants, the attention to detail is impeccable: abstract futurists canvases adorn the walls, luxurious potted parlour palms and a choice of inviting tables and banquette seating. I’m a big fan of dining – and, obviously, drinking – at the bar so I was particularly impressed with that marble-topped wonder and the beautifully crafted shelves that allowed a seductive view of the semi-open kitchen behind.
I dined with my sister on a rather chilly Wednesday evening at the end of November so we were both happy to be enveloped into this welcoming space and greeted with friendly aplomb by the front of house team. Within mere moments we were seated and sipping on a white negroni and classic dry gin martini.
On the a la carte menu, there’s a pretty decent choice of snacks and starters that will please everyone. With four choices of primi pasta dishes and just three secondi choices, the mains are a little more limited but the portions – and the pricing – means you can easily and affordably pick and choose multiple starters and mains to enjoy solo or with friends.
In an attempt to sample the best of the menu, we opted for the ‘Taste of Tutto’ that’s available for tables of two to eight people and features key dishes from the a la carte menu. Service is professional yet informal with plates arriving at leisurely – but no doubt well-timed – intervals at the table meaning there’s always something delicious in front of you as the conversation and wine flows. On that note, the house wines are available as carafes which is a great way to drink well and change your wine choice across your meal.
Our first plate was seared tuna with green beans, radish and a sharp orange sauce. The various textures and more than a hint of chilli really made this a spectacular start to the meal; a little party popping in my mouth. The accompanying dish was the Lasagna Crocchetta, I guess best described as a fried pasty packed with ragu and creamy béchamel sauce and topped with shavings of parmesan. If you like lasagne – which I do – then there really is nothing not to like here and it utterly does the job on the tin. I’m going to pinch this recipe for my next dinner party at home.
Next up, a dish of baked celeriac with artichoke, mushroom and hazelnut. Now I’m not the biggest fan of celeriac but this ended up as one of my two favourite dishes. Much like the tuna, the well-considered layering of textures and flavours really made the ingredients sing. On my next visit, I’ll be order two of this dish just for me so hands off!
The pasta of Chianti slow-braised beef shin is just as you’d expect. Really decent handmade pasta with a beautifully rich, deep, melt-in the mouth sauce of beef. It’s what you’d find in pretty much any restaurant in Italy but so often challenging to find in any Italian restaurant in the UK.
And so to the final savoury dish, an impressively well-cooked piece of supremely fresh sea bass. With Raz owning The Salt Room, I’d expect nothing less. Great chunks of succulent white flesh and a perfectly crispy skin topped with sweet and sticky roasted shallot and on a bed of wild mushroom. There is no mistaking the skill of the kitchen with this dish; and the provenance of the ingredients. The accompanying well-seasoned cavolo nero leaves – again with a hint of chilli – and roasted new potatoes with rosemary made the perfect bedfellows.
By this stage of the meal, I really didn’t have room for a dessert but it seemed rude not to. Another of Tutto’s signature dishes – the Chocolate and Hazelnut Torte – wrapped the meal and I’m so glad it did. Although pitched as the restaurant’s unique take on Ferrero Rocher, aesthetically perhaps best described as a Feast lolly without a stick. Delicious. Ambassador, you really are spoiling us.
We dined early at 6pm but by the time we left at 8pm every table in the restaurant was occupied with groups of friends, families and at least one first date (I have big ears). To pull this off midweek on a new opening is quite a feat, and on my stroll through North Laine and the Lanes on my way home very few other restaurants could claim to have a full-house. Despite start-up teething troubles, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Tutto will rapidly establish itself as one of Brighton’s go-to restaurants.
Tutto, 20-22 Marlborough Place, Brighton BN1 1UB
01273 031 595 • www.tutto-restaurant.co.uk