Recommended Italian Restaurants in London
The extraordinary rise of very fine “modern British” cooking in London isn’t the only gastronomic news. We’re enjoying an amazing Italian boom—our best chef, Giogio Locatelli, demonstrates the elegant style of Milan, but chefs from Amalfi, Venice and Rome are in pursuit, as are half a dozen Sardinians, and the excellent wine lists are showcases full of treasures from the top to the bottom of the Italian boot. Salute! (Websites can be found at the end of the listings.)
Giorgio Locatelli invigorated Italian cooking here, in several restaurants. Now, in a comfortable and attractive room just off Portman Square, he’s created the best Italian restaurant in town. Signature dishes: ravioli filled with velvety ossobucco, monkfish with walnuts and caper sauce, and sweetbreads in sweet-and-sour sauce (a specialty of his native Lombardy). Also, try the cabbage parcels filled with spicy pork and saffron risotto, and rich and tender braised lamb and sweet peppers, or swordfish salad with leeks, all combining bold rusticity and easy elegance. The wine list is splendid, mostly Italian (the exceptions are Champagne and Port) at fairly low markups. The special Piedmontese and Tuscan lists are expensive but worth the money; this is the best place in town to have a big night out with stellar performers like Gaja, Conterno, Prunotto, Pio Cesare, Isole e Olena, Fonterutoli, and Antinori.
Locanda Locatelli, 8 Seymour Street, London W1H 7JZ. Tel: +44 (0)207 935-9088.
Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Nearest Tube: Marble Arch
Nearby Attractions: The Wallace Collection, Speakers’ Corner
This genteel Italian is Knightsbridge personified. The decor is pleasantly understated, service is cheerfully solicitous, the atmosphere amiable. The menu is organised as four courses–imaginative starters, pastas, main courses, and desserts. There are always versions of gnocchi and ravioli (stuffed with things like oxtail, with a rich reduced sauce), as well as various noodles, all freshly made; the linguine with clams is as good as in Liguria. Main courses are inventive, authentic: sweet-and-sour skate or steamed hake with fried parsley and garlic, or rabbit wrapped in prosciutto. Don’t miss the cheesecake, made from goat’s cheese, with a sweet polenta crust and marsala sauce. The wine list is all-Italian, long, and well-balanced. There are also extensive separate listings of reserve wines from the Piedmont and Tuscany.
Zafferano, 15 Lowndes Street, London SW1X 9EY. Tel: +44 (0)207 235-5800.
Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner.
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge
Nearby Attractions: Harvey Nichols, Harrod’s, Hyde Park
With something of a boom (boomlet, perhaps?) in wine bars at the moment, it was inevitable that an Italian version would emerge. Here, the approach to modern Italian cooking is to finesse it imaginatively combinations. The ground-floor wine bar serves antipasti, cheese, and snacks like octopus-and-potato salad with black olives, duck salad with grapes, almonds and sugar peas, as well as some proper Venetian-style sandwiches, while the brightly colourful, comfortable basement restaurant features dishes like a tenderly juicy chicken supreme baked in a salted vanilla crust, a choice of grilled fish and vegetables like radicchio or dandelion, or fillet of roast suckling pig with bacon and Barolo sauce. Chef-patron Massimo Mioli built the air-conditioned cellar himself, and stocked it well. Trentino, Friuli, the Veneto, and Lombardy are well represented, especially by Elena Walch, Villa Russiz, Dario Princic, Suavia, Villa, Bussola, and Quintarelli, but other regions do well on the 200-bin good-value list, especially with some mature Barolos and Brunellos featured. The list by the glass is solid. The odd name derives from “degustation,” appropriately. Dego, Portland House, 4 Great Portland Street, London W1V 8QJ. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7636 2207. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, wine bar open noon to 11 p.m.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Nearby attractions: Oxford Street, Regent Street