Best Italian restaurants in London
See our top picks for the best Italian restaurants in London. You'll find seasonal dishes such as fazzoletti with sheep ricotta, montgomery cheddar fonduta and Padella's famous pici cacio e pepe
Looking for an Italian restaurant in London that isn't your average pizza or spaghetti house? Using traditional recipes from regional Italy and the best imported ingredients, as well as, of course, great British produce, these Britalians are breaking the mould.
Learn about Italian coffee culture with our expert barista Celeste Wong's guide, including traditional rituals, how to order it and the perfect recipe for at-home brewing.
Best Italian restaurants in London
Trullo, Higbury – for seasonally focussed Italian-inspired dishes
Older sister to Borough Market’s Padella, Trullo serves perfect pasta, antipasti and larger charcoal grill dishes in a romantic yet relaxed environment. Upstairs, wooden tables – simply laid with white paper tablecloths and flickering tea lights – are huddled together, while downstairs, dark booths are perfect for a longer, laid-back dinner.
The menu changes twice daily, depending on seasonal produce, but if there’s two of you we’d recommend a couple of antipasti, a couple of plates of pasta and one larger oven dish. Rich beef shin ragu coats slippery ribbons of pappardelle, while sweet squash ravioli gets a richness from the olive oil. If it’s on the menu, order Padella’s iconic pici cacio e pepe for a cheesy hit. Meat and fish are simply cooked over coals, served with the likes of soft polenta and salsa verde or baby beetroot. As with the food, wines change regularly but there are always a few available by the glass. The natural Puglia Miro is bursting with ripe cherries, or sip on a punchy coffee negroni as a nightcap. trullorestaurant.com
Lina Stores, Soho and King's Cross – for authentic pasta and aperitivi
Lina Stores is a pasta, antipasti and aperitivi bar from Soho institution Lina Stores, an Italian deli that’s been the go-to for authentic produce since opening in 1944. The white and mint striped awning makes the new restaurant easily identifiable to regulars at Lina Stores’ original green-tiled corner shop a few streets away. Pops of its signature pastels continue inside – leather bar stools at the ground-floor counter, shelves heaving with Italian liqueurs to make punchy negronis and spritzes, and striped aprons on the chefs who slice pink ribbons of prosciutto, plate up antipasti and toss handmade pasta in pans of sauce in the tiny open kitchen.
Head chef Masha Rener has kept the menu simple and seemingly authentic, with every ingredient hailing directly from Italy. The antipasti menu includes crisp radicchio salad with anchovy dressing, baby artichoke hearts and a slow-cooked porchetta sandwich, served Roman-style, in a crisp ciabatta roll. We’d return for this alone, but it’s quite filling for a starter so share, if you must.
Fresh pasta, handmade an hour before service, is given pride of place, served as the main event rather than traditional pre-main primi. Bright yellow strands of pappardelle soak up light, gamey rabbit ragu, perfectly formed gnocchi is brightened up with popping peas, and a vibrant mint and courgette mixture is stuffed into little tortellini parcels. Pici alla norcina is the highlight, though – springy worms of pasta in a creamy, nutty sauce of porcini mushroom and Norcia sausage (often celebrated as the best in Italy). Creamy lemon sorbet refreshes after so many comforting carbs, the little half-lemon bowl a nostalgic nod to Italian holidays, and is served with a shot of limoncello to send you merrily on your way. linastores.co.uk
Luca, Clerkenwell – for high-end Italian
Luca presents Clerkenwell diners with modern Italian food, cooked using British ingredients and served by waiters who know the food inside out. Referred to by chef Isaac as ‘British ingredients through an Italian lens’, the menu includes Cornish lobster taglierini, canon of hebridean lamb with trombetta courgettes and Hereford beef tartare cured in nebbiolo. The restaurant’s design has been inspired by 1950s Italy, with a blue and sage colour scheme and an impressive semi-open kitchen flanked by floor-to-ceiling glass walls – while they eat diners can watch the chefs at work in the pasta-making room. There’s also a bar, open all day, serving espresso and pastries in the morning, salads and cured meats at lunchtime, and cocktails (making the most of homemade limoncello) alongside shared plates in the evening. luca.restaurant
Macellaio RC – for Italian steak
The tagline of this collection of six Italian restaurants is ‘the butcher’s theatre’. Genoan restaurateur Roberto Costa’s original South Kensington branch is a homely ‘butcher with tables’, while the newest glamorous Soho outpost focuses on the theatre butchery, Union Street has a dedicated pizza menu and Exmouth Market specialises in tuna. Executive chef Lello Favuzzi’s menu starts with lardo that melts onto sourdough with honey and hazelnuts, smoked, aged tuna bresaola with heirloom tomatoes and Tropea onions, and the signature steak tartare. The latter is excitingly prepared tableside on a smart wooden trolley – bowls of chopped Fassona steak, capers, onions, gherkins and anchovies are mixed with cognac, Worcestershire sauce and mustard, with an egg yolk balanced on top. Homemade tortelli parcels are filled with burrata and ricotta and doused in a sage and hazelnut butter, with five year-aged balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. The main event is the grill. House-butchered T-bones, ribeyes and sirlions are dry-aged for seven to nine weeks, and there’s a choice between grass-fed British, lean Fassona from Piedmont and a Bavarian breed that boasts intensely flavoured fat. Pair with a Seven Hills negroni, a bottle from the exceptional Italian wine list and finish with a tiramisu, built at the table, or homemade hazelnut gelato. macellaiorc.com
Maremma, Brixton – for Tuscan neighbourhood vibes
The small space of this Tuscan bistro has a distinctly neighbourhood vibe – vases of dried flowers sit on tables crammed in alongside stools at the pale sage counter overlooking the busy open kitchen and aperitif-bottle-lined bar. Large, almost life-size illustrations of wild boar and octopus on exposed brick walls reflect dishes on the menu – the former in a hefty cut of pepper-crusted cutlet and belly with balsamic figs and wispy Italian spinach, and also combined with Tuscan herbs and fennel seeds to make a ragu tossed through glistening folds of homemade pappardelle.
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The menu is dedicated to produce from the Maremma region of south-west Tuscany. Highlights of our visit were a starter of octopus neatly arranged in a bowl with crushed new potatoes, all doused in Tuscan olive oil and lemon juice. Another was the tortelli Maremmani – yolk-yellow pasta parcels stuffed with creamy ricotta, spinach and a hint of nutmeg, topped with crispy sage. Skate wing wasn’t on the menu on our visit, but we’ve heard from reliable sources it’s another standout.
Wines all come from Maremma – the brancaleta sangiovese/malvasia nera blend provides an elegant, aromatic accompaniment to the boar dishes, while chardonnay from the same vineyard is intense enough to hold up to most options on the menu. The cocktail menu also showcases spirits from the region – Seven Hills gin, infused with juniper and herbs from Maremma, is used in the negroni and a rosemary old fashioned, while the Mi-To (Milano-Torino) cocktail mixes a new Maremma-born vermouth with Corsican grapefruit aperitif, Pampelle. maremmarestaurant.com
Theo's, Camberwell – for Neapolitan pizza
Head to Theo’s in Camberwell for the best sourdough pizza in London. Its wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas are the best in South London. The Scotch Bonnet nduja is the menu must-order, as the spiced sausage is made across the road by the team at the Camberwell Arms pub. Save room for a serving of Theo’s outrageously good tiramisu, and order a negroni bianco or espresso martini to finish. If you don’t fancy sitting in, Theo’s do delivery, so it’s up there with the best takeaway pizza in London, too.
Cin Cin, Fitzrovia — for casual Italian using the best of British ingredients
The specials board captured our attention immediately: crudo with orange, fennel rabbit cacciatore, green olive and soft polenta; bigoli with anchovy, lemon, chilli and focaccia crumb; lemon meringue pie, blood orange sorbet. Cin Cin’s menu uses the best of British ingredients such as Blythburgh pork and south coast crab, Italian style, along with twists on classics including gnocchi cacio e pepe with Trombetta courgettes, burrata with truffled prosciutto and a Marinda tomato salad with lambrusco marinade that’s a must-order. Start with a glass of Franciacorta (Italy’s answer to champagne and a step up from prosecco) or the house negroni featuring Australian Regal red vermouth and rhubarb bitters, a nod to the owner’s Sydney heritage. Decor is relaxed and there are plenty of outdoor tables in this buzzy part of Fitzrovia, not far from Oxford Street. cincin.co.uk
Ombra, Hackney – for casual Italian summer vibes
This ramshackle restaurant perched above Regent’s Canal in Hackney is a riot of pop art posters, bottles of low-intervention wine and cookbooks, with a hatch behind the bar where Mitshel Ibrahim and his chefs pass out Italian dishes. On a sunny day, sit at contemporary wooden tables on the sun-soaked terrace and sip on a bitterly refreshing Cynar spritz or a zingy, thirst-quenching non-alcoholic aperitif. Start with delicate, ricotta-filled tempura courgette flowers and puffed gnocco fritto pillows topped with peppered wild boar mortadella. Homemade pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, including thick tonnarelli laces that cling to spicy ‘nduja and tubes of rigatoni to soak up vibrant pea and mint sauce. For dessert, the chocolate cream-filled choux buns are the perfect size for a satisfying sweet hit. ombrabar.restaurant
Ave Mario, Covent Garden — for lavish, camp interiors and superior Italian ingredients
Anyone who loved the OTT charms of Gloria and Circo Populare will find much to enjoy in Big Mamma’s latest opening. Loosely inspired by Florence, it's a sprawling affair with almost 300 seats spread over three floors of kitschy, Instagrammable interiors, from the ground-floor dining room complete with soaring ceilings, green-and-white striped walls and a towering bar stocked with 3,500 bottles, to a louche, mirrored, 70s-style basement bar complete with an open kitchen where you can watch pizzaiolos work their magic. There’s campy Catholic iconography scattered throughout, pictures of Sopranos characters in the loos, pretty vegetable-shaped crockery and a 60cm marbled stracciatella ice-cream cake on the menu to rival Gloria’s famed supersized lemon meringue pie. It’s boisterously fun and undoubtedly a place you go to soak up the atmosphere, but the food — mostly crowdpleasing spins on classics — also impresses, from luscious carbonara ravioli filed with oozy egg yolk and flakes of guanciale, to the pillowiest of pizzas decadently topped with salty pearls of Venetian caviar. Ingredients, sourced from some 180 artisan suppliers, are top drawer — think 36-month-old prosciutto; dreamily creamy Puglian burrata; silky mortadella; and liberal clouds of umami aged parmesan. coventgarden.london/ave-mario
Palazzo, Crystal Palace — for a shiny Italian bar and diner
Palazzo is an Italian neighbourhood bar and diner from the team behind Made of Dough, boasting a sparkling new premise in Crystal Palace. The sleek 70s-inspired space comes decked with smart wooden tables, countertop seating and a shiny record library, with an extensive vinyl collection set for late-night weekends and DJ parties.
Drinks form part of the strong apéritif offering: sip on Italian cocktails such as a bicicletta, negroni or amaro spritz to kick things off. There's also an array of Italian wines ranging from Piedmont to Sicily, plus draught beer from Brick Brewery and The Drop Project.
Expect a shortlist of Made of Dough’s signature chewy, blistered, Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza, best served with a trio of basil aïoli, spicy paprika and kimchi mayo dips. There’s a considered menu of sophisticated small plates using quality Italian ingredients, from burrata and panzanella, to zucchini fritti and anchovy bread, or go big with pork and veal meatballs and chicken Milanese with lemon and aïoli. Finish off with everyone’s favourite Italian pud – tiramisu – or a few scoops of artisan Hackney gelato. barpalazzo.com
Al Mare, Knightsbridge — for sleek new Italian dining
The revamped The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is home to a bright and buzzing Italian, focussed around a partially open kitchen that adds a sense of theatre. Butter-soft leather banquettes and crisp blue-and-white linens reflect the restaurant’s coastal theme. Start with snacks such as battuta di tonno — a spicy bite of tuna tartare on saffron arancini — over a glass of Franciacorta, the sparkling wine from Lombardy. There’s a selection of crudo, including white fish ricciolo (yellowtail) with lemon gel dressing for makes a light starter — a good idea if you’re up for a mid-course of pasta. Try agnoletti del plin — guinea fowl stuffed parcels — or the simpler cheese and pepper combo, fusilli cacio e pepe. Two further highlights are the saffron risotto, a classic recipe with the addition of a little licorice, and the signature cacciuccio, a rich seafood dish with orecchiette. Desserts range from classic tiramisu to a glossy Peruvian chocolate tart and tonka bean and hazelnut affogato. Service is impeccable in this very slick new dining room. jumeirah.com/en/dine/london/carlton-tower-al-mare
Pino, Kensington — an Italian institution opens a new ode to Emilia Romana
Kensington High Street’s Italian family-run institution, Il Portico, has opened a new sister restaurant a few doors down. Fairy lights twinkle from an olive tree in the corner and balsamic vinegar ages in barrels at the restaurant's centre. There's an open kitchen at the back with a turquoise mosaic-adorned pizza oven, from which chefs pull wood-fired focaccia slices and crisp pizzas. Owner James Chiavarini and his staff couldn't be more accommodating, telling stories of Emilia Romana while recommending wines and dishes. Pick a selection of tapas to share — fritto misto is a tangle of courgette discs, plump prawns and squid pieces all coated in a light batter, with a lime mayo for dunking. Burrata sits on a bed of chargrilled veg and bitter friarelli broccoli leaves, while soft salmon is cured with Campari and beetroot. Pasta is equally as impressive — frilly ribbons of homemade pappardelle soak up Forest of Dean wild boar ragu, and squid ink parcels are filled with monkfish and aubergine. British-Italian cocktails include the Cornwall negroni and a Modenese take on a Manhattan, incorporating Pino's 25 year-aged balsamic bitters. Finish with a refreshing carpaccio of pineapple laced with refreshing yogurt sorbet, mint and fresh chillis. famigliaportico.co.uk
Sessions Arts Club, Farringdon — for Italian inspired small plates in arty surroundings
If you like to experiment, share and discover new ingredients and flavours, this is your dream menu. Chef Florence knight (formerly of Polpo) has created something very unique, with Italian-inspired small plates and mains that read very simply but are put together in such a way as to surprise and delight. Friggitelli (charred green peppers served with puréed cannellini beans lightened with citrus) and hearty pork belly, fennel and orange packs a punch. Our stand-out dishes were a fragrant, rich saffron and tomato tart, and eel, potato, crème fraîche and roe — a slab of thinly layered potato that’s both soft and crunchy, with the fish adding a subtle saltiness. The room is an easy place to lose an afternoon or evening with a high ceiling, distressed walls, comfortable booths and a mezzanine floor with outdoor bar. sessionsartsclub.com
Brutto, Farringdon — for Tuscan-Florentine dishes for sharing
Refreshingly, this new Tuscan-Florentine restaurant isn't one that values style over substance. Recently opened by Polpo's Russell Norman, the relaxed, no-frills interior is reminiscent of more old-school Italian establishments, with red gingham tablecloths, walls lined with framed pictures and a wine menu that's modestly stapled together, emphasising good Tuscan bottles. The menu is particularly good for sharing, with four small pasta plates that include a delicate rabbit pappardelle, and tagliatelle with a nostalgically rich, meaty ragu-style sauce. Start with the deep-fried dough ball 'cuddles' antipasti, paired well with thin slices of salty prosciutto and creamy stracchino. The mains, or secondi, are quite beef-focused, with a blackboard of perfectly cooked T-bone steaks to be ordered per 100g, and a hearty Tuscan beef shin stew. Alternatively, you can try the juicy pork and fennel sausages with lentils and a big dollop of dijon mustard. Leave room for a slice of the light, layered apple tart, or the 'ugly but good' cookies — these crisp hazelnut meringues originate from Tuscany, served here with smooth vanilla ice cream. Despite 'brutto' translating to 'ugly' in Italian, the food here is far from it. It's simple, but it proves that good food doesn't have to be stylish. msha.ke/brutto
Manteca, Shoreditch — for nose-to-tail cooking and hand-rolled pasta
Chefs Chris Leach and David Carter opened Manteca's first permanent home on Curtain Road, Shoreditch, in November last year to rave reviews. Inspired by Chris's travels through Italy, the focus is on nose-to-tail Italian cooking, with hand-rolled pasta, house-made salami, seasonal vegetables and wood-fired breads at the forefront. Expect hearty, knockout dishes including puffy clam flatbreads, a rich pig skin ragu, and rigatoni with a silky kale sauce served in a light, airy setting. There's a carefully honed wine menu with classic bottles and bolder 'down the rabbit hole' wines, and an amari-focussed cocktail list making the most of the Italian herbal liqueur, featuring not-to-be-missed house-made amaro. mantecarestaurant.co.uk
Al Mare, Knightbridge – for sleek Italian dining
The revamped The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is home to a bright and buzzing Italian, focussed around a partially open kitchen that adds a sense of theatre. Butter-soft leather banquettes and crisp blue-and-white linens reflect the restaurant’s coastal theme. Start with snacks such as battuta di tonno – a spicy bite of tuna tartare on saffron arancini – over a glass of Franciacorta, the sparkling wine from Lombardy. Try agnoletti del plin – guinea fowl stuffed parcels – or the simpler cheese and pepper combo, fusilli cacio e pepe. Desserts range from classic tiramisu to a glossy Peruvian chocolate tart and tonka bean and hazelnut affogato. jumeirah.com/en/dine/london/carlton-tower-al-mare
Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, Soho — for impeccable pizzas in laidback surroundings
Rudy’s outpost in Soho makes a worthy addition to London’s pizza scene. Start with an aperitivo of Campari and soda, which arrives premixed in a dinky little bottle alongside a bowl of salted crisps for snacking, before moving onto generous sharing platters loaded with deli treats and house-baked bread. Pizza toppings are crowd-pleasing, from parmigiana with roasted aubergine to spicy calabrese with ‘nduja sausage and cinghiale with wild boar salami. Our lavishly topped capricciosa with creamy fior de latte, prosciutto, mushrooms, Kalamata olives and artichoke hearts ticked all the boxes, but it was the base that really impressed — well-flavoured and pillowy while still being satisfyingly chewy. All of Rudy’s pizzas — baked daily using 24-hour fermented dough — are made by trained and accredited pizzaiolos. rudyspizza.co.uk/soho/
The Italian Greyhound, Marylebone — for simply executed dishes in a beautiful, relaxed setting
Sipping a negroni infused with oregano in the sunshine-flooded room of the Italian Greyhound, it’s hard to believe you’re a stone’s throw from the traffic-heavy Edgware Road. The ambience is calming: light wood, long walk-in bar, plants and patio windows that open onto the villagey vibe of Seymour Place. This new spot is an evolution of the previous Italian restaurant, Bernardiâ’s. The menu, created by head chef Yohei Furuhashi — previously of the River Cafe — uses British produce, simply executed, divided into five sections: small plates, all day pizzette (light and thin with toppings ranging from courgette to Calabrian sausage to white peach), pasta, larger plates (choices: sea bream, John Dory, dry-aged ribeye and Herdwick lamb) and dolci. From the small plates, octopus is as tender as marshmallow, with chickpeas, crisp piattoni beans and tiny acid-burst Datterini tomatoes. A glorious discovery is panelle — crunchy-yet-melt-in-the-mouth Sicilian chickpea chips, dressed with sage and lemon. Pasta comes as a starter or main portion — the latter for the healthiest of appetites. Spaghetti is silky, coated with shreds of Cornish crab, fennel seeds, chilli and lemon. Beautifully soft slow-cooked pork, flavoured with vermouth and parmesan, is an unctuous sauce for tagliatelle verde. If you have room left, ensure you try the pistachio tiramisu, as fluffy as a cloud with a creamy nuttiness. theitaliangreyhound.co.uk
Padella, Borough Market – for perfect pasta
Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda, the duo behind Trullo in Highbury, opened their second restaurant, Padella, in Borough Market in March 2016. Padella’s menu is made up of eight pasta dishes taken from Trullo’s ‘greatest hits’, using fresh pasta rolled in the window of the restaurant just before service. A small, no-bookings restaurant where queues are a given, Padella was born of a desire to make fresh handmade pasta accessible to everybody. The open kitchen combines traditional Italian techniques and quality British produce to make dishes like pappardelle and eight-hour beef shin ragu, tagliarini with brown shrimps, green and yellow courgette, and its now famous pici cacio e pepe (get the recipe here).
Jordan says: “We wanted to create a restaurant that was true to the principles we admired in the great British restaurants – rigorous seasonality with a focus on using British producers wherever possible. We make everything in-house – rolling pasta, baking our bread, churning our ice cream – every day, and do it at a price that isn’t exclusive.” padella.co
Bancone, Covent Garden – for Italian counter dining
The tagline for this Italian restaurant, just minutes from Trafalgar Square, might be “pasta, prosecco, espresso” – but it’s those first little mouthfuls of arancini from the antipasti that you’ll be raving about, come home time. The arancini arrive as three golden nuggets. Their crisp armour gives way to the lightest rice, still just al dente, no stodge, and bags of flavour – first (on our visit) earthy mushroom, next creamy dolcelatte, and finally saffron with a fiery heart of ’nduja.
It’s hard not to be mesmerised by the rest of the menu, though, particularly if you sit at the marble-topped, brass-trimmed bar, overlooking the chefs at work. Fresh pasta, which is made and rolled upstairs, is flash-boiled before being tossed with any of the 10 sauces on offer. Chitarra – guitar-string like spaghetti – is slicked with cacio e pepe and topped with a crisp, peppered cheese wafer. Oxtail ragu, slow cooked for 10 hours until sticky and sweet, clings to bouncy folds of pappardelle. Simple, quality ingredients – the bedrock of good Italian cookery – are shown proper respect. Hispi cabbage is charred and dressed with red chilli, garlic and 2017 Planeta olive oil. Chicory and beans are held up with sweet and sour onions, and a deeply savoury anchovy crumb.
Classic negronis with the right amount of chunky ice and a twist of orange are just as well received as the prosecco, and don’t leave without a palate-cleansing, retro-tastic Amalfi lemon syllabub (recipe below) and granita served in its original host. Holiday vibes for the win.
Bocca di Lupo, Soho – for regional Italian cooking
Bocca di Lupo was the first solo venture from chef Jacob Kenedy and general manager Victor Hugo. Jacob was previously head chef at Moro before moving to Boulevardin San Francisco. Bocca di Lupo showcases regional Italian cooking and wine – Jacob and Victor travelled extensively around Italy to research the restaurant’s menu and wine lists.
The premise is straightforward – to offer regional Italian food in tapas-sized portions. More substantial plates are available for the deeper of belly. The menu is a gustatory odyssey through Italy, from a Trentino pork and foie-gras sausage to a Sicilian tuna tartare, which manifests as a generous hillock of ruby cubes, studded with salty capers, soft pine nuts and shavings of orange peel.
Kenedy is a master at frying – producing a sublimely light crescentini (a sort of fried bread), topped with sweet speck, fennel-studded finocchiona and soft squacquerone cheese – and is equally deft when it comes to salads. A sublime blood orange, oregano and onion salad explodes in the mouth. boccadilupo.com
Fiume, Battersea – for smart southern Italian dishes
Wind around the edge of the Thames, ducking under the colourful ‘Power’ archway as you do, and in the shadow of Battersea Power Station is where you’ll find Fiume. Translating as river, the contemporary Italian sits in front of a water feature that reflects the golden hue of the recently renovated chimneys towering above.
This is Calabrian chef Francesco Mazzei’s third restaurant in partnership with D&D London. Inside, the restaurant’s décor reflects the menu – it’s smart but relaxed. There’s counter dining and high chairs by the bar for quick plates of cicchetti (fried calamari to crostini draped with mozzarella, anchovies and roasted peppers) and homemade breads from the wood-fired pizza oven.
The menu proper focusses on the recipes of southern Italy, or Mezzogiorno, jumping around the eight different regions. Think wobbly burrata and slow-cooked octopus to start, with classic mains such as aubergine parmigiana and seafood fregola, along with a handmade pasta menu. fiume-restaurant.co.uk
Angelina, Dalston – for Italian-Japanese fusion
Simple yet refined Italian-Japanese cooking is the focus at Angelina, and their dining concept is boldly simple: just a five-course sharing menu for £38. The menu starts with elegant fish and seafood crudités: Sicilian red prawns, dusted with roasted rice powder and drizzled with olive oil, has a lusciously soft, almost creamy texture, while rich tuna belly is pepped up by a zingy blood orange dressing. Sea bream with mirin is salty-fresh. Elsewhere, a risotto with unagi (eel), burnt soy butter and dashi is perfectly executed, the rice creamy but retaining just the right amount of bite, the fish butter-soft, while onglet steak with charred radicchio is all bitter, umami intensity. angelina.london
Radici, Islington – for a refreshed old-school Italian
Islington restaurant Radici is the latest venture from Italian chef Francesco Mazzei, who also oversees Sartoria in Mayfair. More of a neighbourhood trattoria than its Savile Row sibling, Radici’s menu incorporates dishes such as seafood fettuccine and calf’s liver involtino with pancetta, garlic and rosemary served with smoked potato mash. “I would call Radici a ‘refreshed old-school Italian’,” says Francesco. “We’re true to who we are.” radici.uk
Pastaio, Soho – for casual pasta dinners
Chef Stevie Parle’s venture brings handmade pasta and affordable wines to Soho. A cavernous Tom Dixon-designed space on Ganton Street that’s all high ceilings and exposed fittings, with a huge, colourful mural (by Rob Lowe of Supermundane) that saves the room from feeling coldly industrial.
From the pasta section, malloreddus (tiny, ridged Sardinian gnocchi) came dressed with a slow-cooked sausage sauce that was elegantly light and flavourful, while agnoli stuffed with grouse, pork and rabbit was a deceptively simple dish that made good use of prime autumn produce. Be sure to order the agnoli – a triumph of pared-back cooking; perfectly cooked and crafted pasta, a generous game filling and a seriously moreish sage-butter sauce. The drinks offering at Pastaio is short and affordable, ranging from prosecco and Aperol slushies to wines from lesser-known Italian growers, many priced by the glass. We tried a velvety, smoky refosco – a spot-on recommendation from our friendly, knowledgeable waiter.
Osteria Romana, Knightsbridge – for Roman cooking
A small, softly lit space, the décor keeps it simple with plain wooden flooring and furniture, earth-hued walls and little copper lamps that shine inviting pools of light over each table. Pots of vivid green basil adorn each table and a wall-to-wall wine rack provides a focal point at one end of the room. The effect is intimate, unpretentious but still tastefully sleek – it is Knightsbridge, after all.
Four fat, handmade gnocchi were the stars of our antipasti. Pleasingly fluffy, they came drizzled with a decadent, moreish black truffle and pecorino sauce. Well-made rice croquettes, with a crisp exterior and meaty ragu filling, were complemented by a tangy tomato velouté. Spaghetti carbonara, that iconic Roman dish, was note perfect, with a silky properly emulsified sauce. Tonnarelli with artichokes and red prawns combined juicy crustacean with dried shards of artichokes and a bisque-like sauce. Lamb chops – served with ultra-smooth mashed potatoes and crispy leeks – were pink, tender and deeply flavoured. The concise wine list keeps it almost entirely Italian, of course. We tried a subtly smoky sangiovese and montepulciano blend, and a fruity ripasso.
Osteria Wolf, Stoke Newington – for contemporary Italian
Opening a contemporary Italian restaurant was a natural step for Wolf owner Antony Difrancesco, who was born in London to Sicilian parents.
Seasonal dishes include fazzoletti with sheep ricotta, broad beans, peas, lemon and mint, and breaded veal chop with brown butter capers, anchovy and lemon. Antony says: “The great thing about the renaissance of Italian food is that chefs are applying new techniques and other influences to make them their own.” wolf-restaurant.co.uk
Emilia's, St Katherines Dock – for coastal Italian vibes
“Many people have said the view from our restaurant resembles the coast of southern Italy,” says Andrew Macleod, owner of Emilia’s in St Katharine Docks. After developing the concept, Andrew joined forces with pasta chef Simone Stagnitto to create the menus for this rustic pasta bar. The pasta is made daily on site and the concise menu features just seven pasta dishes. Recipes include a northern Italian-style carbonara and four-hour slow-cooked béchamel bolognese. emiliaspasta.com
Cecconi’s Pizza Bar, Soho – for a fun pizza date
From the team behind Soho House, Cecconi’s Pizza Bar focuses on pizza, pasta and Aperol spritz on tap. Vintage Italian posters, black and white mosaic tiles and mahogany tables give the space a retro feel. In the summer, grab a seat on the street and spend the evening sipping on punchy negronis.
Which pizza to order at Cecconi’s Pizza Bar? The super doughy charred crust has a slightly smoky flavour, while the sloppy base is piled high with toppings. Either keep it classic with buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil, or choose one topped lavishly with parma ham, peppery rocket, mozzarella, parmesan and meltingly creamy burrata – torn apart then drizzled with olive oil. If you fancy something a little lighter, go for a pizzette instead.
What else is there to eat and drink? Crisp matchsticks of zucchini fritti with silky aioli (lifted with lemon) is the best place to start. While pizza is the focus, be sure to share a bowl of creamy spaghetti dusted with shavings of umami truffle. If you’ve saved room for dessert, the tiramisu is a must. Waiters bring large dishes to the table and serve the rich coffee-soaked dessert straight up. cecconispizzabar.com
Sorella, Clapham – for neighbourhood vibes
Having lived, worked and even celebrated their wedding on the Amalfi Coast, it had always been a dream of Robin and Sarah Gill (of The Dairy in Clapham) to open an Italian restaurant. After a trip to Italy, co-owner Dean Parker – who worked in one of Robin and Sarah’s favourite restaurants while out there – fell in love with the idea, too. And so, The Dairy’s sibling restaurant, Sorella (meaning ‘sister’), was born in early 2018.
The menu starts with cicchetti and antipasti such as fried olives, fennel salumi and truffle arancini. Primi includes cuttlefish linguine with black olives and peppers, gnocchi with wild mushrooms and asparagus, and a seasonal ragu. Secondi are served using whole cuts from rare breeds or fish from Cornwall. For dolci, there’s Pump Street chocolate with fennel gelato, a seasonal panna cotta and a malted barley affogato with vodka milk. Drinks are a big focus, with the group’s Dan Joines creating a homemade vermouth. “The vermouth is an essential ingredient in the cocktails we serve,” says Dan. “Making our own has been a passion project for the past three years and now it’s complete. In summer it’s light and fresh, but we also make a deeper, sweeter one (great in a negroni) for winter.” sorellarestaurant.co.uk
Looking for inspirational Italian recipes? Check out our 27 best ever Italian recipes here
Photograph credits: Jade Nina Sarkhel (Maremma)