LOTI Eats | Leo’s

Leo’s opened up in Clapton in June 2023, taking over the site that was Jim’s Cafe and transforming it into an all-day Italian spot

The team behind it, Julian Porter and Lauren Johns, found success down in south London with their well-regarded brunch spot Juliet’s Quality Foods, but Leo’s is their first proper restaurant. We meant to go and check it out sooner but we’re glad we waited. The beautiful cosy space with its wood panelling, mid-century furniture, white tablecloths, and open kitchen with wood-fired hearth was the perfect thing to walk in to on a cold December night. 

The food, from Sardinian chef Giuseppe Belvedere (previously of P.Franco and Bright), makes for the perfect winter warmer too. We kicked off with a snack of superlative saffron suppli: perfectly light and crisp on the outside; rich and gooey on the inside. 

Then there was the comforting embrace of white beans in a cheesy pecorino sauce, topped with an egg yolk and crunchy rosemary croutons. Our other starter was a beef tartare, Italian style, served atop a bed of bagnetto rosso, a red sauce made from peppers and tomato, which cut through the beef very nicely. Just make sure you order a side of bread too, as it doesn’t come with any toast or anything like that.

There were some great-sounding fish and meat mains but, really, what else to have in winter but two big bowls of pasta? First, we had fettuce (similar to fettuccine) with a rich tomato and Sardinian sausage sauce, which was superb and could only have benefited from a grating of fresh parmesan at the table. Then, casoncelli (stuffed pasta that look a bit like Polish pierogi dumplings) filled with pumpkin and dressed in a taleggio cheese sauce. 

We were sat in the more serious back dining room (which we loved) but there’s also the front section that’s a bit more casual (and walk in only) serving the same menu. And during the day, Leo’s has a whole different menu, starting with coffee and breakfast in the mornings, moving to casual lunch dishes in the day, including an exceptionally good-looking lasagne we’ve often drooled over on our Instagram feed. 

All in all, Leo’s is a great new neighbourhood spot, particularly for your next low-key date night. 

59 Chatsworth Rd, London E5 0LH