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Founded in 1824 in Milan’s chic Magenta neighbourhood, in Via Santa Maria alla Porta, in a building dating back to 1770, Marchesi is one of Milan's most storied pastry shops and caffés.
It was acquired by the Prada Group in 2014, and London’s Mayfair is the first international opening after a second Milan outpost opened in Via Montenapoleone in 2015 and a third in Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in September 2016, sandwiched between a Prada store and the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio exhibition space.
In Mount Street, the 70 sq m space has been furnished with cherry wood fixtures and fittings developed by Prada for the Milan openings, loosely based on the original location. These sit alongside the original fittings of Allens of Mayfair, the historic butcher which stood on the site from 1880 to 2015, including decorative tiled walls, wrought iron butchers hooks, and black and yellow Siena marble floors.
Marchesi serves the very same coffee, 100 per cent arabica bold roast, prepared by a barista from Marchesi’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II branch, and served in the same low and wide bowled porcelain cups expressly made by Rosenthal. You can also find the same tramezzini finger sandwiches; savoury brioche filled with bresaola and rocket; Panettone, and during Easter, Colomba; as well as plenty of sweet treats and chocolates in very tempting pastel coloured packaging (awarded Best Sweet Treats in our 2016 Design Awards).
Out the front you order from the bar and may consume standing up (like a true Milanese), or sit at one of the four small marble topped tables and eight armchairs upholstered in green mohair velvet. In the Salotto at the back, just like in Milan, there is waiting service where six tables seat an additional 18.
I have been a regular at the original Marchesi for 20 years, as it was my local when I lived there. This is very authentic – though a coffee expert could do a more precise taste test – I am sure the water in Mayfair verses the water in Milan makes a small difference. The pastries served in London are prepared in Milan and baked onsite downstairs. I spotted a slight difference last week when I went in for a pre-opening tour and tasting. The baked-on sugar on the top of the classic brioche was replaced by a dusting of icing sugar, which according to Diego Crosara, Marchesi’s Master Pastry chef, is being put right within ten days as an oven needs swapping, the baked sugar gives a good crunch to the soft pastry.
The main difference however is the price. A cup of coffee in Milan is €1.30, in London the very same thing will cost you £6.00 pounds (or €6.80). But, as a Mayfair insider told me after my visit, that’s still less than the Connaught opposite, just past the Tadao Ando fountain outside.
Marchesi popped up for a month in Harrods in 2014 whilst the department store was host to Prada Sphere and again last September at MatchesFashion.com's new outpost 5 Carlos Place, opposite, when Prada took over for the opening. It’s a welcome addition to Mount Street, flanked by Goyard, Moynat, Gianvito Rossi, Roksanda and Christopher Kane.
For more information, visit the Marchesi website
17 Mount St
London, W1K 3LA
Also known as Picky Nicky, Nick Vinson has contributed to Wallpaper* Magazine for the past 21 years. He runs Vinson&Co, a London-based bureau specialising in creative direction and interiors for the luxury goods industry. As both an expert and fan of Made in Italy, he divides his time between London and Florence and has decades of experience in the industry as a critic, curator and editor.
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