Azzurra is the latest project from the restaurateur David Yeo and his international restaurant group Aqua, which has high-end sites from Hong Kong to Miami.
Press fluff said “Azzurra is the culmination of David’s extensive travel through Italy” and will focus on a “boat-to-table philosophy.”
The restaurant, on Sloane Street, will use British seafood, sourced sustainably, to be cooked using Italian flavours and techniques. Yeo, who already has five venues in London — including the Italian concept Luci in Covent Garden — said Azzurra is going to be “all about Italian elegance and simplicity.”
“I opened my first restaurant in 2000 and the scene has changed unrecognisably. Gone are the days when diners would be flocking to fine dining restaurants twice a week,” he said. “We’re not going to be chasing Michelin stars or starching tablecloths. Azzurra is going to be all about that incredible Italian simplicity.
“I also want to champion our own British fisherman. It will be a boat-to-table experience.”
Azzurra’s kitchen will be overseen by executive chef Andrea Mura, a Sardinian native.
To the backdrop of guest DJs will be dishes such as Scottish langoustine tartare with Amalfi lemon oil and smoked Anglesey salt, a sea urchin ‘diamond’ with charred peaches and seaweed caviar, and classic fritto misto.
Pasta dishes will include a “seafood carbonara” made with mussels, clams, tuna, prawns, and sea bass, and a crab linguine.
A “signature seasonal seafood platter” will take pride of place, meanwhile, with the likes of Welsh lobster, Scottish langoustines, Sicilian red prawns, Japanese sea urchin, Colchester oysters and razor clams.
Yeo said everything from the salt to the olive oil has been considered, and variations of each will be used to finish different dishes.
“A big part of my research and development for Azzurra has focused on finding excellence,” he explained. “Take salt for example. We will have regional salts. Maldon, but Anglesey and Trapani too. Each salt is special in its own way. And we looked at olive oil in the same way.”
Yeo has worked with the designer Robert Angel to create Azzurra, a fixture of blue banquettes, a nautical-themed verre églomisé mirror, and outside, a striped awning.
Yeo described an “azure-toned space.” The restaurant will also feature a 16 metre bar, projections of shimmering water throughout, and sculptures of crustaceans and fishing netting running from the ceiling and down columns throughout.
“Design has always been important to me, even when I first started opening restaurants,” Yeo told the Standard. “I have worked collaboratively with the designer Robert Angel for years. Together we created a light projection to recreate the feeling of sun on the water, ripples and the deep sea.”
Yeo said it is 23 years since he opened his first restaurant — Aqua Hong Kong — navigating challenging times for the industry along the way. He added it was a chance meeting with a woman in Vietnam who first inspired him to establish his restaurant group.
Yeo said: “In Vietnam, I met the most incredible lady with a simple pot of herbs and an endless queue of devoted customers and it was this encounter that inspired me to create Aqua all those years ago.
“She was making simple deep-fried tofu and it was beautifully crispy, with just the right amount of fish sauce, chilli, sugar, and copious amounts of herbs that she had picked and shredded. The idea of layers is something I have carried along with me for years: a base note, a main flavour that stays with your palate, and a high note to finish things off. We take this approach in every single one of our restaurants, even though they are all so different.”
Azzurra will open in the autumn at 128 Sloane Street, SW1X 9AS, azzurrarestaurant.co.uk