Pizza and Pasta at Hai Cenato, Victoria

There was a time when I found London Victoria dreadful, particularly when the daily commute gets rather frustrating due to overcrowding. And for the travel hub that it is, there wasn’t much. Thank heavens, Nova Food finally came into fruition and now this armpit of a stop has become a pit stop for new gastronomic finds.

I’m not surprised why Jason Atherton decided to open Hai Cenato in Nova Victoria. He seems to know when and where to strike, and I’m glad it’s happened a stone’s throw away from where I am. Because really and truly, Jason Atherton may not be the best chef (like mentor Gordon Ramsay) but he seems to know how to grow a global empire of restaurants (like mentor Gordon Ramsay). And most of the time, he strikes gold.

The surprise, however, comes from what type of joint he opens: a New York-Italian restaurant, with a focus on pizza and then some pasta and small plates. Like, really?

Then again, he did open Sosharu, an izakaya-style restaurant which I loved. And he seems to know how to cater to localised markets in Dubai, HK, Philippines, Shanghai, Singapore, and then some. But another pizza in London? It’s a rather saturated market and you don’t have to pay premium to afford something good. So what sets Hai Cenato from the rest?

Saying that, I was curious. The place itself looks great. Downstairs, you have the restaurant with plush red leather banquettes, an open kitchen and bar counter seating. Upstairs, you have The Drunken Oyster which offers aperitivos, vermouth & tonics, and taptails. Ah, the Atherton formula lives.

I’m one of those people who like carbs on carbs on occasion. Garlic and chilli bread sounded lush, so we had a plate. The dough was rather decent although I felt a bit mucked on flavour. My idea of garlic bread is the type where it’s so garlicky you won’t kiss nobody in a year’s time.

The sharing plate of meats, olives and bread was actually good. It looks substandard, but the quality of meat was commendable.

A highlight of the night for me was the beautiful small plate of octopus. Perfectly cooked and caramelised, it’s served on a bed of lentils and whacked with a hefty serving of pesto.

Like, seriously, this is a dish for the win.

I have mixed emotions for the campanelle pasta because I wasn’t expecting to love it as much. Dressed with a generous butter sauce, it was peppered with cockles, clams and sourdough breadcrumbs. There’s texture, there’s a subtle yet robust flavour, and there’s comfort.

Hai Cenato by The Girl Next ShoreAnd then the pizzas came. If I’m being completely honest, I thought the pizzas at Hai Cenato looked better than they tasted. The dough itself was satisfactory and the toppings were of amazing quality produce. But was it love at first slice? No.

But that’s just me. Pizza, after all can be personal.

Speck d Aosta, Nduja, spinach, anchovy, harissa and olive. Nduja is that thing that just seems to make all sorts of pizza better. This was a 3/5.

Confit lamb neck, spiced aubergine, ras el hanout, yoghurt & mint. This seems like the bestseller, if I’m basing it on blogger/critic review appearances. Deservedly so, as I’ve had versions of this type of pizza elsewhere. Hai Cenato’s lamb pizza ranks a close second to Homeslice’s offering.

Verdict for Hai Cenato

Kudos to Mr Atherton and his mates for another restaurant. I think it’ll pique the interest of his fans and Victoria locals who’ve been dying for a decent spot of dining for yonks. Will I come back? Well, admittedly I visited last Summer and have not been raring to go back. But I wouldn’t mind heading up The Drunken Oyster for some good cocktails.

I liked the small plates although I wasn’t too sure about the pizzas. Doesn’t help that Franco Manco is just around the corner and I can’t help but drool on the thought of the #4 (which is, by the way, half the price of Hai Cenato’s pizzas).

Hai Cenato
2, 79 Buckingham Palace Rd, Westminster, London SW1E
Ave spend pp: £45 

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  1. 4th February 2018 / 3:20 pm

    Wow this looks amazing will have to Remember this for next time I’m in London

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:16 pm

      I’d recommend his other restaurants first 🙂

  2. 4th February 2018 / 5:40 pm

    The octopus looks just amazing as does that pizza, wow!

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:16 pm

      The octopus was the highlight!

  3. Allison hanson
    4th February 2018 / 6:14 pm

    The octopus and last pizza looks amazing. Those would have been my choices!!

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:17 pm

      Those were really good!

  4. 4th February 2018 / 6:32 pm

    I’m starving now haha. I’ve never had octopus but I want to try it now

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:22 pm

      Nooo! I hope you try it cos it’s goooood!

  5. 4th February 2018 / 7:06 pm

    I love having this place local to me and I’m a huge fan of that octopus dish.

  6. 4th February 2018 / 8:31 pm

    I just ate, but I feel hungry again. 🙂 I want octopus and pizza after. Both looks so delicious.

  7. 4th February 2018 / 9:01 pm

    Ohhh that’s a shame that the pizzas looked better than they tasted - I mean they look AMAZING!! It looks like they have a great menu though!

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:18 pm

      I think the menu is defo great and has lots of potential! I hope they can deliver!

  8. 4th February 2018 / 9:17 pm

    like your detailed review 🙂

  9. 5th February 2018 / 5:01 am

    I love restaurants with a twist, and a bit of personality. I think it’s always handy to have good restaurants in commuter territory and saves on cooking after a long day in the office.

  10. 5th February 2018 / 12:11 pm

    It looks like a lovely restaurant and somewhere to go for a treat.

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:57 pm

      It’s decent enough, but not the best, I have to say!

  11. Nazrin Miah
    5th February 2018 / 12:47 pm

    I have to be feeling a pizza in order to eat it. I feel like I would eat it all the time if it was offered in a cool restaurant like Hai Cento! The entire place looks divine!

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:57 pm

      Hey Nazrin - place looked good but the food was just okay 🙂

  12. 5th February 2018 / 4:32 pm

    Wow! This place seems so exceptional and I would love to have a meal there and enjoy the cozy atmosphere!

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:56 pm

      Awww, Agness hit me up when you ever land in London!

  13. 5th February 2018 / 4:48 pm

    I always love reading a balanced review like this one because it reminds me that there are still bloggers (like us 😉 ) who are honest and write their opinions giving criticism where due. I’m 100% with you on garlic bread, it needs to be GARLICKY to the max. The pizza toppings sound interesting but I think I’d be more interested in the octopus and pasta too!

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:21 pm

      Thanks for acknowledging, Gingey (haha!) i guess I just really want to write the type of reviews I would like to read. It gets so boring when you see bloggers say everything is amazing (and then finding out it’s comped). There is the risk of PRs being skeptic about what you might say but end of the day, it’s your experience - which may or may not be different from someone else’s. And yes to GARLIC!

  14. 5th February 2018 / 6:27 pm

    I am a serious pizza-lover - and the pizzas look amazing to me! 😀 Agreed, that the area around Victoria station is not really a place you would go willingly, but now I might actually go just to try out this place. The atmosphere looks pretty cool

    X Louise

    • 6th February 2018 / 1:23 pm

      Oh Louise there’s been lotsa places in the Nova Food development in Victoria now so it’s quite a nice hub to find places!

  15. 5th February 2018 / 7:52 pm

    That’s a good dollop of pesto on that octopus! In fairness the food does look rather good and an ideal footfall location x

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:56 pm

      Hahaha it was definitely a lot of verdant pesto, but it wasn’t overpowering, thank goodness!

  16. Nicole
    5th February 2018 / 8:14 pm

    This place looks so posh, yet cozy at the same time. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  17. 5th February 2018 / 9:40 pm

    This looks SO yummy! I’ve never had octopus before…..I don’t know if I could!

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:55 pm

      It’s so good grilled properly!

  18. 5th February 2018 / 11:04 pm

    All these food photos are making my mouth water and wanting to book a flight to London ASAP!

  19. 6th February 2018 / 1:23 pm

    This sounds AMAZING. I’m a Londoner too, an I cannot get enough of good food. I’ll definitely have to check this place out - maybe for Valentines Day!

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:55 pm

      Oooh, Mairi I’d recommend you try his other restaurants before this one! =)

  20. 6th February 2018 / 7:10 pm

    This is a mouth watering post, oh yum, great ideas for different pizza recipes and they all look positively delish! Thanks for such a great post!

    • Honey de Gracia
      6th February 2018 / 10:54 pm

      Thanks Charmaine!

  21. 7th February 2018 / 1:21 pm

    ohhhh did that used to be All bar One? A much better use of the space and definitely on my ‘need to check out’ list now!

  22. 24th February 2018 / 7:04 am

    campanelle pasta and Hai Cenato looking lip smacking… mouthwatering all the food. Thankyou Garcia for this foodie post.

  23. 1st March 2018 / 4:08 pm

    My friend and I tried to go here once recently but they didn’t seem too enamoured when she drives with the buggy she felt. But that lamb neck confit pizza sounds sooo good!

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