Since the launch of Gloria Trattoria in March, much of Great Eastern Street has been occupied by a well-dressed queue, partly due to the restaurant’s no-bookings policy and partially down to the warm welcome the venue has received from restaurant critics and Instagram snappers alike. The venue was the first UK launch from Big Mamma Group, the team behind Pink Mamma, La Felicita and Popolare in Paris and Le Bellezza in Lille. Specialising in laid-back trattorias, the group offers high-concept spaces executed impeccably, menus filled with Italian-sourced ingredients and all-Italian staff, for that extra nod of authenticity. The two-floor 160-cover restaurant’s menu is vast and demands repeated visits: spaghetti carbonara for two is served in a whole wheel of parmesan; the ‘Ten Level Lasagne’ is as decadent as it sounds and Big Mamma’s signature dish la vera pasta al tartufo – fresh pappardelle, black Molise truffle, mascarpone and button mushrooms – is beautifully presented at the table in a vintage copper pan.
54-56 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QR
The River Café
Hammersmith’s The River Café was owned and run by chefs Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray until Gray's death in 2010; since then, Rogers has been the sole owner and still runs the restaurant today. Since opening in 1987, the Thames-side restaurant has gained a Michelin star, training up the likes of Theo Randall, Ed Baines of Randall & Aubin, April Bloomfield, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall along the way. Simple signature dishes include the likes of wild mushroom risotto; Dover sole and John Dory smoked in the restaurant's wood stove; lemon almond cake; and chocolate ‘Nemesis’ cake. It’s the perfect spot for special occasions.
Rainville Road, Hammersmith, W6 9HA
Since original founder Lina opened the doors to this revered Soho deli nearly 75 years ago, Lina Stores has become something of an institution, providing homesick Italians and in-the-know Londoners with the best ingredients Italy has to offer. Now it has its very own restaurant, using the fresh ingredients made at the Brewer Street deli. A no-bookings restaurant on vibrant Greek Street, the kitchen is headed up by Masha Rener, the deli’s in-house pasta chef and a restaurateur from Umbria, Italy. Together with her team, she creates spectacular dishes out of the simplest ingredients. Of the eight pasta dishes, we love the veal ravioli with marjoram and toasted breadcrumbs and the ricotta and herb gnudi with sage and brown butter. What’s more, it’s an affordable spot – pastas cost around £8.50 each, antipasti average around £4.50 and cocktails start at £6.
51 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4EH
There’s no better place to indulge your pasta fix than at Padella, one of London’s hottest Italian eateries, and multi-winner of Observer Food Monthly’s ‘Best Cheap Eats’. Here, guests can feast on classics including the likes of tagliatelle with nduja, mascarpone and parsley; pappardelle with eight-hour Dexter beef shin ragu; and ravioli of Neal’s Yard goats curd with marjoram butter. Each dish is priced between £5 and £10, which means you can either be frugal or order twice as much as usual. There are no reservations, so you will have to queue, but it’s well worth the wait.
6 Southwark Street, Borough, SE1 1TQ
Handmade pasta paired with prosecco slushies are now a mainstay in Soho, courtesy of chef Stevie Parle’s Pastaio. Slap bang in the centre of Soho, we love the simple, confident Italian cooking and bold Tom Dixon Design décor, not to mention those aforementioned slushies. The pasta-heavy menu features classic dishes such as wild mushroom tagliatelle and wild boar, rabbit and pork agnoli alongside fun additions such as a fiery nduja and mozzarella deep-fried sandwich and a cocktail list stacked with negronis. Of the lot, we’re a big fan of the seafood pasta to share, which is served with langoustines, prawns, mussels and clams tossed through parsley, chilli and garlic. This is a dish not to be missed.
19 Ganton Street, Soho, W1F 7BU
Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant Murano celebrated its tenth birthday last year. Since opening a decade ago, Angela and her team have created a memorable yet informal experience for guests. The restaurant’s modern Italian menu, which allows the diner to choose any number of dishes in the order they choose, reflects this ethos. Groups can book into the private room – seating up to 12 guests – which features a retractable curtain and a window offering a direct view into the kitchen. For those wanting a more interactive experience, Angela and her team will devise a tasting with matching wines as part of a chef’s table experience.
Queen Street, Mayfair, W1J 5PP
Italian chef Francesco Mazzei was one of the first to open a restaurant at Battersea Power Station’s Circus West Village. Named Fiume (the Italian word for 'river'), Mazzei oversees the site as chef patron alongside head chef Francesco Chiarelli. Sitting right on the bank of the Thames, the restaurant offers unrivalled views of the river and has a large Mediterranean piazza-style terrace to enjoy them from. Inspired by the traditional food of Mazzei’s homeland, the restaurant serves hearty recipes made with fresh, vibrant ingredients from the Med. Expect the likes of wild boar ragu pappardelle; Scottish crab and Amalfi lemon linguini; and aubergine parmigiana.
Circus West Village, Battersea, SW8 5BN
Hot on the heels of Gloria Trattoria is Circolo Popolare, an 857sqm slice of summer inspired by the extravagance of a Sicilian wedding. Bigger in size – the wisteria-filled restaurant seats 280 across a mix of booths and 12-people feasting tables, plus there’s a pretty sun-drenched terrace for 60 – the premise here is about larger sharing dishes, served family style. Antipasti is the best way to kick off the meal: we recommend ordering a mix of Sardinian empanadas filled with pork, Sicilian fennel and arrabiata sauce, plates of ham and Puglian burrata served with an oozing pesto centre. Mains offer everything from extra-large pizzas to bowls of pasta (we love the linguini with burrata and aubergine), but make sure to leave room for the ‘Dessert Island’, an extreme take on ile flottante. The slice of meringue comes in at 20cm high, before being covered with sticky popcorn and a rich crème anglaise. Like everything at Circolo, it’s OTT and, most importantly, fun.
40-41 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HX
Bocca di Lupo
Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo opened Bocca di Lupo in 2008. The restaurant has since received various awards and accolades for its stripped-down, honest regional Italian cuisine. Despite the slick Soho surroundings, Bocco di Lupo is a family business and likes to think of itself as more of a trattoria than a glamorous restaurant. The kitchen continues to specialise in the obscure and delicious highlights of food and wine from across Italy's 20 regions and almost everything is homemade, from the breads, sausages, salame, pickles and mostarda down to the pasta. If you're hosting a party, the Remus Room – and its selection of seasonal feasting menus – is the place to book.
12 Archer Street, Soho, W1D 7BB
Hackney restaurant Lardo makes everything it can in-house: think ricotta, bread, ice-cream and cured meats and fish. Working as seasonally as possible, the kitchen serves daily changing specials that reflect what's great that time of year – current highlights include hazelnut gnudi with brown butter and octopus and prawn spiedino with Amalfi lemon slaw. Kids are welcome at the restaurant at all times, and there’s both a dedicated children’s menu and a range of adult dishes that can be easily modified for little ones. New for late-summer 2019 is The Salon: adjacent to Lardo this is the spot to book for parties, private dinners and community events.
197-201 Richmond Road, Hackney, E8 3NJ
The Clove Club Group now includes The Clove Club, Two Lights, Flor and Luca. It’s Luca that offers the most Italian experience of the four, serving high-quality ingredients from around the British Isles and Italy: think shrimps from Morecambe Bay, grouse from Yorkshire, langoustines from Scotland and cheeses from across the country. Seasonal standouts on the main menu include roast Orkney scallops with barbecued sweetcorn and ‘nduja, parmesan gnocchi cacio e pepe with nettles and cured egg yolk and sea bream crudo with cherries. At the bar, franciacorta, negronis and grappa are the drinks to order while you dip into bowls of parmesan fries, salumi and pasta. Guests can take a seat in one of the atmospheric booths or at the marble bar for a drink, light bite or to settle in for the night.
88 St John Street, Farringdon, EC1M 4EH
Opened in Peckham in 2014, Artusi is an Italian-inspired neighbourhood restaurant. The simple menu, which sees changes throughout the week, reflects the best possible seasonal produce available, and always features pasta made that day. The kitchen sources its produce from select suppliers and London markets, and wine comes from a range of Italian regions. For groups of eight or more, there’s a delicious family-style sharing menu, plus there’s large table in front of the open kitchen which seats up to 18 people, where the team serves a selection of dishes from the day’s menu. Here, feasts such as shin of veal or suckling pig can be prepared with a little notice.
161 Bellenden Road, Peckham, SE15 4DH
Theo Randall at the InterContinental
Theo Randall was head chef at The River Café for 15 years and it was under his patronage that the restaurant received its first Michelin star in 1997. He left to launch Theo Randall at the InterContinental, which opened in November 2006. His commitment to delivering rustic produce-driven Italian food has earned him loyal followers and rave reviews from critics and food-lovers. His newest initiative at his Park Lane restaurant is taking a stand against the increasing amount of screen time during mealtimes. Campaigning to get families and friends to spend more quality time together, he’s created a special sharing menu called the ‘Festa in Famiglia’ where tables that go the entire meal without their devices will have the chance to pick a prize from the deck of the classic Italian card game, Briscola. Genius.
Park Lane, Mayfair, W1J 7QY