20 Broadwick Street, London

With lavish and glamorous interiors courtesy of Martin Brudnizki, the 57-room Broadwick Soho is no wallflower, and that maximalist design philosophy is proudly on show in the hotel’s signature restaurant Dear Jackie. It’s got red silk walls adorned with decorative plates, Mediterranean-inspired tiles on the tabletops, chintzy fabric on the banquettes, Murano lighting and vintage-style table lamps, which are as much function as form as the lighting, though flattering for the face, is so low you won’t be able to read the menu without them. The restaurant self-describes as part la dolce vita, part disco, we see it more like the older, moneyed aunt of Big Mamma’s Gloria on holiday at a White Lotus resort. Head Chef Harry Faddy (ex-Aquavit and The River Cafe) is aiming for sophistication with his menu, peppering it with luxe ingredients and both classic Italian and Mediterranean flavours. The menu includes dishes like scallops in champagne sauce with trout roe and finger lime, pumpkin tortelloni with nduja butter and amaretti, pork collar with salsa verde with treviso, fennel parmigiana, and tiramisu. We’re not totally sold on the substance of Dear Jackie but the place has style in abundance, so if vibes are high on your requirements when choosing a dinner venue, you’ll be happy here.




94 Sydenham Rd, London SE26 5JX

A beloved local fave (it’s even taken the top spot for London restaurants on Trip Advisor a few times), the 40-seat, family-owned Trattoria Raffaele has been serving up handmade Italian food since 2008. All the food is seasonal and fresh, including the pasta made from scratch and and the handmade bread and sauces for the pizzas. The regular menu is full of classic dishes but the specials board is where the real gems are to be found.


Founded by Seanie Grasso, whose mum’s family went from Syracuse in Sicily to NYC to London, Grasso in Soho is a proper, family-run Italian-American joint. Little Italy faves dominate the menu, including the signature dish of mom’s spaghetti and meatballs (made to the original family recipe), shrimp cocktail, mozzarella sticks with nduja and wild honey, penne alla vodka, tagliatelle alfredo, lobster linguine, and chicken parm. Grasso also slings pizzas, made with an in-house two-day dough technique, with toppings like vodka sauce, meatballs, fennel sausage and eggplant parm. Add on a couple of Brooklyn’s G&Ts or Cherry Coke Long Island Iced Teas and you’ve got yourself a good time.


Named after owner Leonardo Leoncini’s grandpa, cafe and wine bar Giacco’s leans into his Italian heritage with wines, charcuterie and cheese from small producers in Italy on the menu, which are joined by filled focaccia and fresh pasta. Running as a cafe and bottle shop during the day, you can pop into Giacco’s for some Terrone & Co coffee; salads; Leo’s take on the Florentine classic schiacciata ripiena, aka stuffed focaccia; Italian charcuterie and cheese; and wines to take away. Come evening, small plates and fresh pasta dishes like crudo di pesce, pappardelle al ragu bianco, and pici cacio e pepe hit the menu, alongside a low-intervention wine list featuring bottles from suppliers like Tutto Wines, Les Caves De Pyrene, Vine Trai, Ancestral Wines and Gergovie Wines. The 20-cover spot also has nice little vinyl selection and some vintage Celestion Ditton speakers, so the soundtrack is on point too – what more could you want from a neighbourhood joint?


Padella, Phipp Street, London

The younger but bigger of the two Padella restaurants, Padella Shoreditch, is the perfect place for some al fresco pasta thanks to its 26-cover terrace – it’s heated and covered in the rain and uncovered in the sunshine (the restaurant’s glass barriers are also retractable to really open up the space) so it works whatever the weather decides to do. The menu is packed with all the Padella classics including courgette fritti, pici cacio e pepe, pappardelle with 8-hour beef shin ragu, and tiramisu, and if you like an early dinner, you can get the famous negronis for just £2 between 5pm – 6.30pm, Monday – Friday.


What was Jim’s Cafe has been transformed into Italian joint Leo’s by the team behind Juliet’s Quality Foods and chef Giuseppe Belvedere (ex-P.Franco and Bright). Jim’s was known for its classic interiors and the Leo’s crew have kept the old-school look with mid-century furniture and retro accents in the front and white tablecloths and dark wood in the back, proper trattoria vibes. You can pop in for an espresso but you’ll want to stay for the rabbit agnolotti, mussel cream & bottarga spaghetti, grilled lamb saddle and walnut ice cream.


If you’re looking for a big meal with a not-so-big price tag, make a beeline for Sapori. It’s an Italian-British cafe, meaning you can get everything from fry-ups and classic sandwiches to prawn tagliatelle and risotto of the day, all served in greasy spoon-sized portions. It may not be a looker but its a reliable spot to have up your sleeve in Westminster – and there are cannoli on the counter too.


Named after owner Leonardo Leoncini’s grandpa, Giacco’s leans into his Italian heritage with wines, charcuterie and cheese from small producers in Italy on the menu, which are joined by filled focaccia and fresh pasta. Running as a cafe and bottle shop during the day, you can pop into Giacco’s for some Terrone & Co coffee; salads; Leo’s take on the Florentine classic schiacciata ripiena, aka stuffed focaccia; Italian charcuterie and cheese; and wines to take away. Come evening, small plates and fresh pasta dishes like cudo di pesce, pappardelle al ragu bianco, and pici cacio e pepe hit the menu, alongside a low-intervention wine list featuring bottles from suppliers like Tutto Wines, Les Caves De Pyrene, Vine Trai, Ancestral Wines and Gergovie Wines.


It was only a matter of time before the Big Mamma crew headed west and naturally their first restaurant over that side of town is their most luxurious one yet. Like GloriaCircolo Popolare and Ave Mario, Jacuzzi in Kensington is massively maximalist and OTT. The four-floor, 4000 sq ft, 170-cover space features a gigantic lemon tree, a Sicilian mezzanine with a retractable roof, a green boudoir, and glitter ball disco toilets in the basement. Of course the food is just as extra as the decor with the menu featuring dishes like Culatello di Zibello with gnocchi fritti; burrata with fresh seasonal truffle; pizzette topped with Italian caviar; lobster risotto with half lobster, clams, red gurnard & cuttlefish; truffle pasta for two with fresh black truffle, truffle cream & parmigiano foam, served in a 4kg wheel of pecorino; and chocolate fondue for two with Valrhona dark chocolate & homemade churros.


Fiume is right on the bank of the river Thames (‘fiume’ = river in Italian), with views of both the water and Battersea Power Station, and was one of the first new launches at Circus West Village when it first emerged. Created by chef Francesco Mazzei and restaurant/hotel group D&D London, Fiume serves up a menu of traditional Mediterranean dishes – expect the likes of burrata and calamari to start followed by various pizzas and pasta dishes. The real USP here is the location and the sights, grab a seat on the terrace to take it all in.


The Covent Garden outpost of Petersham Nurseries is set in the appropriately-named Floral Court, with The Petersham restaurant taking up one side of the courtyard (with the more casual La Goccia restaurant on the other side). Boasting a foliage-adorned terrace and elegant interiors that draw inspo from Petersham House, the Boglione family home in Richmond, The Petersham serves up a refined menu of Italian dishes that showcase seasonal produce at its best. We’re talking dishes like The Petersham garden fritto, summer salad with cherries, peach & burrata, linguine with lobster & Datterini tomatoes, calamaro with grilled peppers, beef fillet with parsley salad, Original Beans chocolate with Zisola olive oil ice cream & honeycomb, and strawberry semifreddo with mint crumble, that all look pretty as a picture too. The wine list has lots of bottles from Italy (although not exclusively so) but the bar is more than happy to mix up cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks too – in fact the service across the board is excellent here. A meal here isn’t cheap but it’s a stunning setting so defo one to save for a special occasion.


Cin Cin Fitzrovia, Foley Street, London

On a tranquil street in Fitzrovia, Italian bar and kitchen Cin Cin’s terrace is an ideal spot for some al fresco dining paired with people-watching. The cafe-style street seating looks out over Great Titchfield Street and gets plenty of sunlight (although there are shadier tables if that’s what you’d prefer). And Cin Cin has launched a brand new menu of snacks and sharing plates exclusive to the terrace, including the likes of crispy calabrese chicken wings with garlic mayo & parmesan; courgette flower & truffled ricotta fritti; arancino of white crab with brown crab aioli; and a seafood crudo platter with cured trout, seabass, citrus marinated scallops & oysters. Of course, no summer dining terrace is complete without cocktails, and Cin Cin has plenty of those with Negronis and spritzes on the list.


Ciao Bella, Lamb's Conduit Street, London

Ciao Bella is a traditional Italian restaurant in the heart of Bloomsbury, the kind of place where the walls are covered with photos of Sophia Loren, there’s someone playing the piano, the portions are big, and everyone there seems to be celebrating something. The menu of eternal classics is a safe bet – pizza, pasta, gelato; what’s not to like? And so you have the best possible experience, you’ve gotta sit on the terrace for some of the finest people-watching in London.


An Italian restaurant in Hackney, Ombra has been around for a while but has gone up significantly in the estimations of London foodies in recent years. Although its roots were originally set in Venetian cuisine (it takes its name ‘ombra’ from the Venetian slang for a small glass of wine), Head Chef Mitshel Ibrahim has expanded Ombra’s reach and branched out into a variety of Italian regions. Expect the likes of gnocco fritto & wild boar mortadella; smoked ricotta & anchovy ravioli, tonnarelli pasta with ceps; and tiramisu but bear in mind that the seasonal menu changes regularly. The drinks list features low-intervention wines from Italy and across Europe alongside classic Italian cocktails – grab a spot on the terrace for the ultimate Italian holiday feeling.


Inside the Middle Eight hotel in Covent Garden, Sycamore Vino Cucina is an all-day restaurant and bar inspired by northern Italian cuisine. Think bomboloni and fresh-baked bread for breakfast, hand-rolled pasta for lunch and pit-grilled meats for dinner, with some highlights including oxtail tortellini with fava beans & truffle oil; burrata served with wild garlic, orange & pine nuts; chianti-braised beef ragu reginette pasta with parmesan; and slow roast pork rib with soft corn polenta & kale. Drinks-wise, expect a selection of wines from the northern regions of Piedmont, Lombardia and Tuscany, as well as signature negronis and Italian draft beers.


Just off the end of Columbia Road is where you’ll find some of the best southern Italian food in one of the most romantic restaurants in town. Campania & Jones wins you over immediately with its beautifully rustic decor and convivial atmosphere, and then it makes you fall in love with it as the food comes out – plump gnudi with sage butter, bowls of homemade pappardelle and tortelli, rich fish stew, and the best tiramisu in London. Simple, flavourful cooking, generous portions just like nonna would dish up, and a gorge setting, you really can’t ask for much more.


Having worked at Locanda Locatelli and opened Bancone, Louis Korovilas certainly knows a thing or two about pasta and he’s showing it off at his new spot Noci (owned by the peeps behind Tavolino) in Islington. The menu takes inspo from Louis’ travels across Italy and the country’s regional specialties, starting with a short selection of small plates including fluffy foccacia with datterini tomato and caramelised onion, saffron & nduja arancini, and bresaola with star anise-dressed celeriac. Pasta is the star of the show though and there’s plenty of variety from veal & pork Genovese ragu with paccheri to wild mushroom silk handkerchiefs with confit egg yolk. Not only is the food at Noci genuinely great, it’s reasonably priced too – the house peach spritz is a fiver, negronis are six quid and the pasta plates are affordable, (they even offer ziti with pesto, tomato or parmesan & butter sauce for £7.50).


Top chef Theo Randall has been at The InterContinental Park Lane since it opened in 2006, having spent the majority of his career at The River Cafe with the legendary Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray MBE, as well as a stint at The Berkeley, California. Theo’s cooking is deeply rooted in rustic Italian food and has been given numerous nods from notable critics. The pappardelle con ragú di manzo, fresh pasta with slow cooked beef in Chianti and San Marzano tomatoes, is exceptional, as is the risotto di mare with clams, seabass, mussels, prawns, tomatoes, chilli and parsley. When Italian food is this impressive it’s a meal you will be talking about for a while.

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