I found Osteria dell'Arancio to be a hidden gem in Chelsea. With all the high profile venues around town, the set back profile of the restaurant and the personable staff gave a very comfortable feel to the experience. (This was also very good for the date... you never felt rushed, you could enjoy the restaurant as if it were your own.) The wait staff was happy to discuss their preferences with us, what they liked on the menu, and they were very upfront and honest with us.
Before we ordered, the head chef came upstairs to check on tables and see how people were enjoying their food. He stopped by to ask us about our tastes, made a few recommendations, and even tweaked a few dishes to our liking. Once our order was in, the manager came to review our order and made some suggestions on the wine. While I'd usually prefer to select my own wine, the manager made a good decision for us, taking in consideration what we had ordered, and paired the wine wonderfully. Also, to my surprise, it was one of the lower cost wines on the menu (I've found that recommendations are usually pretty high up the price list) but rather than just squeezing out a few extra pounds, the manager selected what he thought would taste best with the meal. We also enjoyed the background on the selection - it is pretty obvious that the manager knows his wines... we got a brief lesson on the variety of grape and the low-down on the region in italy it was from. Just a nice touch
The atmosphere was very enjoyable during the wait for the food. Music wasn't too loud, the weather was nice so the big windows were open allowing a cool breeze... very italian. The food came out rather promptly and the dishes were piping hot. The tempura on the aubergine and calamari was very crisp, everything tasted very fresh. It was very noticeable that the chef has put thorough time into the sauces - there were very delicate flavours all of which balanced well (the chef had guided us on orders so that the flow of the meal went smoothly). This theme continued throughout the night - great flavours, each of which also paired well with the wine. We experienced some dishes that I have never heard of. While it is an italian restaurant, there is a funky element to the menu that adds a little fun. The veal with a tuna sauce (sounds strange, but delicious) was new to us but now we look for it wherever we go.
All in all I recommend that this restaurant should be visited at one point or another. The staff ensured that it was a very special experience and the chef delivered a variety of great flavours throughout the night. If you're a wine person, there is also much more upside in visiting
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