If you’ve had a treat-worthy Italian meal in Manhattan, chances are it was at Scarpetta. Now the Scarpetta group has opened its first London restaurant. Sette, on the ground floor of the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, serves modern, sleek, special-occasion Italian food with a major focus on what founder John Meadow calls “old world hospitality”.
What To Order: The black tagliolini, an indulgent handmade pasta dish featuring lobster, tomato and breadcrumbs. Sette also serves Scarpetta’s famous spaghetti with tomato and basil.
4 Knightsbridge Green, Knightsbridge, SW1Z 7QA
A delicious all-day brasserie from the Soho House group – and, helpfully, you don’t have to be a member to eat here. Café Monico’s classic green and wooden interior – and some excellent glassware – gives a vibe of Upper East Side JG Melon meets Soho’s Balthazar. All in the middle of the West End.
What To Order: Burrata to start – it’s pretty much criminal not to – followed by the Monico cheeseburger and truffle fries.
39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue, West End, W1D 6LA
This small chain of pizza restaurants started as a pop-up in Neal’s Yard and now has permanent venues in Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Marylebone, White City, Shoreditch and the City. Get incredible pizza by the slice with a can of own-brew Homeslice lager. It’s noisy, informal and wouldn’t look out of place on any street corner in Williamsburg.
What To Order: If you’re going for a full pizza, go 50/50: one half the fresh, garlicky courgette and artichoke pizza; on the other, the rich, flavourful Neal’s Yard Dairy four cheese, jalapeno salsa and rye crumb.
Holborn Dining Room
A beautiful brasserie in the even more beautiful Rosewood London hotel: expect epic pies, flattering lighting, super-smart cocktail waiters and attentive service. The plush red leather booths and antique copper-topped bars feel very ‘Mad Men at lunch’, which we love.
What To Order: Wednesdays are ‘Welly Wednesdays’ at the Holborn Dining Room. Ordering the beef wellington is not mandatory, but very much advised. Any other night of the week, try the rich, comforting potato, comté and caramelised onion pie.
252 High Holborn, Holborn, WC1V 7EN
Hutong at the Shard
We’d be remiss not to include a skyscraper restaurant in a roundup for Manhattan-philes. For really special occasions, we love Hutong’s panoramic views of London, delicious northern Chinese food and playful plating-up artistry.
What To Order: Ibérico pork dumplings to share, then the crispy de-boned lamb ribs with a side of lotus root with chilli.
Level 33, The Shard, London Bridge, SE1 9RY
A loud, high-energy Israeli restaurant tucked into one of Southwark’s many railway arches. Visually, it’s a miniature version of the iconic Grand Central Oyster Bar. Gastronomically, it’s a whole other story. Think incredible Tel Aviv-inspired small plates, delicious kosher wine and very handsome waiting staff.
What To Order: Don’t skip the hummus. This tomato-pulp and chilli-infused dish is like nothing you’ve tried before. The crispy chicken thighs with harissa, kimchi and sumac are a close second.
Arch 25, 229 Union Street, Southwark, SE1 0LR
The Olympic Café & Dining Room
The Olympic Cinema is Barnes’ best kept secret. Hidden within, you’ll find this sweet, neighbourhood restaurant. Cosy booth tables and a bright airy atmosphere draw the locals in their droves – even if they’re not catching a movie afterwards.
What To Order: The menu changes weekly but the Olympic hot dog with pickled cucumber, raclette and hand-cut chips is an ever-present winner.
117-123 Church Road, Barnes, SW13 9HL
We may not be in the city that never sleeps, but the kitchen at The Delaunay stays open until 11pm, so late dinners are a particular favourite here. This grand Covent Garden all-day dining room also has a sweet deli-wine bar called The Delaunay Counter if you’re looking for something a little more relaxed. Plus, you don’t need to book so it’s the perfect spot for an impromptu light bite.
What To Order: The chicken schnitzel, every single time.
55 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BB
For a slice of the East Village in east London, dine at the counter in Shoreditch’s rustic Basque eatery, Brat. Paradise for fish and meat lovers, it serves perfectly cooked simple dishes in an unassuming, informal setting.
What To Order: Simple but incredibly flavourful, try the lemon sole with not one but two side orders: the smoked potatoes and roasted greens.
4 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JL
One thing New Yorkers do really well is a power breakfast. And the place they do it best? Balthazar. Its sister bistro and brasserie in Covent Garden is a home away from home for Americans in London. If you get in there pre-Christmas, you’re in for a visual treat when you see how it’s decorated the entrance.
What To Order: For breakfast, the crab scrambled egg, sourdough and creme fraiche is seriously special. If you’re lucky enough to get a table for dinner, the niçoise salad with fresh seared tuna is a must.
4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5HZ
New York’s Lower East Side does fancy Italian so well. And so does Trullo. Its simple, chic interiors are an oasis of good taste, but the food is the real star. Expect fresh pasta rolled to order, and the intoxicating smells of fish and meat cooked over burning coals.
What To Order: Well this is tricky. Not because there isn’t an outstanding dish, but because the menu changes every single day. Just make sure you leave space for both a primi pasta course and meat or fish to follow.
300-302 St Paul's Road, Islington, N1 2LH
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