The Best Italian Restaurants in London
Last Updated: 13th August 2019 | Main image: Forza Win
The Italians have given London a lot over the years: its name, a bridge over the Thames AND its first proper plumbing…
Before then, it was just a pipe dream.
Fortunately a little of their culinary nous has rubbed off too, because London’s now home to a trove of authentic trattorias, Michelin-starred restaurants and casual Italian eateries.
So raise a glass to our ancestors and stop by one of their descendants’ best spots for a bite…
Sorella | Clapham
The Amalfi Coast comes to Clapham: that’s the headline at Sorella, owned by Robin and Sarah Gill of The Dairy fame. Housed in the same space as their former hit restaurant The Manor, the place oozes with the rustic style of Southwest Italy. Simple furnishings and exposed brick are the backdrop to homely, Southern Italian-leaning plates that recently won the place a Michelin Bib Gourmand. The deserts offer a twist you’re unlikely to encounter elsewhere, including Malted Barley Affogato & Vodka Milk – as well as digestifs like the “Cello, is it mint you’re looking for”. READ MORE
Details: 148 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6BX | Open Tues-Sun
Gloria | Shoreditch
Gloria sits in the heart of Shoreditch, so you’re probably imagining exposed brickwork, chalkboard menus and handlebar moustaches as far as the eye can see. Gloria couldn’t be further from it. A sea of bright, clashing textures, colours, and chintz, the bombastic Gloria brings a refreshingly different aesthetic to Great Eastern Street. The first London venture from Paris’ Big Mamma group, everything here is dialled up to 11. You’ll find “London’s longest grissini” breadsticks, 10 layer-deep lasagnes, profiteroles the size of shot-puts, and cocktails containing porcini mushroom wine and truffle foam. This is 20th century Italy remixed, reworked, and reconstructed, delivering something for all the senses. READ MORE
Details: 54-56 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3QR | Open daily
Anima e Cuore | Kentish Town
It’s traditional to end an Italian evening with ice cream, but here you’ll find it at the start – because this hidden Kentish Town gem is stowed away at the back of an ice cream shop. Totally unassuming, this dinky diner shot to popularity after opening in 2014. It makes sense: the culinary team had The Ledbury, L’Anima, Sketch and Le Gavroche on their CVs, so it was a sure bet. Doing away with the pomp and circumstance of fine dining was the main object, creating instead a quaint neighbourhood restaurant that packs a punch. The rosemary baba, caramelised scallops, and bread gnocchi are certainly knock-out, and the need to book early demonstrates their success.
Details: 129 Kentish Town Rd, London NW1 8PB | Open Tues-Sat, 6-11pm
Trullo | Highbury
Housed in Highbury, this trattoria-styled diner offers a British take on Italian tuck. Tim Siadatan, formally on the pans at St John and Moro, provides a seasonal menu that changes frequently (sometimes twice daily) with a focus on hand-made pasta and charcoal-grilled meats. The net curtain halfway up the windows, the white tablecloths and the wood furnishings combine to give the place an authentic Italian flavour… which you’ll also find on your plate, in the form of chargrilled quail with aioli; pappardelle with chicken liver, sage and marsala; and Amalfi lemon tart. Add to that a stonking great wine list, and Trullo is a consistently high performer. READ MORE
Details: 300-302 St. Pauls Road, Highbury East, N1 2LH | Open Mon-Sat
Padella | London Bridge
The little sister of Trullo, this little Italian is tucked away in Borough Market and serves up stunning pasta at a very reasonable price. There’s no reservations, just one giant queue round the block which ends with marble countertops, bar style seating, and a honeycomb-tiled open kitchen churning out piles of pasta including fettuccine with ‘Nduja, ravioli with Neals Yard ricotta, cacio pepe, and their big sis’s signature, pappardelle with beef shin. Almost all the dishes are under a tenner, so if you’re happy to wait this really is the best way to enjoy primo pasta on a budget. READ MORE
Details: 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ | Padella is open daily, 12-3.45pm and 5-10pm (9pm Sunday). No reservations: if you’d like to go, just turn up – and be prepared for completely insane queues.
Murano | Mayfair
“If you want to learn Italian cooking, go work for a Scot” said nobody, ever – until of course Angela Hartnett opened Murano, won a Michelin star, and showed that her time with Gordon Ramsay had allowed her to unlock the secrets to Mediterranean cuisine (she also does, in fact, have Italian heritage, but if we’d told you that the set up wouldn’t have been as good). The set up at Murano on the other hand needs no tweaking to impress. It’s classic dining, in the heart of Mayfair, so the tablecloths are white, the service is silver and the food, exquisite. The devil here is in the detail. It’s a requirement that nearly all oils, vinegars, and sherries be made in house, from scratch; and all those homemade staples are expertly combined to deliver dishes such as broad bean and rosemary arancini; rabbit leg with Pecorino; smoked pork belly; and apricot soufflé. This is Italian for those living la dolce vita.
NOTE: For a more down to earth, but equally delicious version of Murano you could head over to one of two Café Muranos (St. James and Covent Garden), where the vibe is more banquette than banquet and the decor is relaxed, modern, and centred around countertop dining.
Details: 20 Queen Street Mayfair London W1J 5PP | Open Mon-Sat, 12-3pm & 6:30-11pm
Mele e Pere | Soho
Three is a good combo in Italy: three colours in the flag, three flavours in Neapolitan ice cream, and three ingredients in a negroni. So when three Italian brothers set out to create a neighbourhood trattoria in Soho, they were onto a good thing. Independent and self-reliant, they make many of their products on-site daily, including bread, ice cream, pasta, and even their vermouth. That vermouth joins London’s largest collection of the stuff behind the bar, alongside an exclusively Italian wine list, and numerous sharing platters and light bites on offer. But for a full meal you can expect total indulgence, in the form of carbonara arancini, lobster gratin, squid ink spaghetti, steak Fiorentina, and plenty of homemade gelato. It’s simple, rustic, and utterly authentic.
Details: 46 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 9TF | Open daily
The River Café | Hammersmith
The River Café attempts to offer a full tour of Europe’s boot, from zipper to heel. Over a quarter of a century of operation, an impressive level of prestige has been cultivated here, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the founders of Soho’s Randall & Aubin. All of this excellence comes at a price – which you’ll be paying – but having earned and kept a Michelin star since 1997, you know you’ll be enjoying Italian cooking at the top of its game. With the Thames lapping against its shores, the restaurant has a few fish based signatures that are well worth a try; including wood roasted turbot and John Dory smoked in their own wood stove. The wine list offers something from every region and would require a guidebook to get through. By the time you get to the heel… you’ll be legless. READ MORE
Details: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA | Open daily
Artusi | Peckham
Artusi is a Peckham neighbourhood joint with an Italian core. Sourcing as many of its ingredients as possible locally, it then whips them up into hearty Italian dishes. The furnishings are simple, the walls are white, a chalkboard tells you what you can eat, and the food does the talking. And as Italian is a romance language, you’re highly likely to fall in love with what’s on your plate. The seasonal, flexible menu ranges from cuttlefish ragù to cucumber and apple tonic sorbet, with plenty of pasta, pork, and cheese in between.
Details: 161 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4DH | Open for dinner Mon-Sat, lunch Tues-Sat, and Sundays all day, from 12:30-8pm
Marcella | Deptford
Marcella is the sister to Artusi and, sticking with family tradition, focuses firmly on simplicity. The dining room is pared back, pastel toned, with whitewashed walls and the obligatory chalkboard. The menu also makes for efficient reading with only 3 starters, 3 pastas, 3 mains, and – wait for it – 3 desserts. But keeping the options tight means each dish can flourish, and with options including spaghetti with confit cod cheeks; fried artichoke with aioli; and veal with fennel and orange, Marcella turns Deptford into a doorway to the Apennine peninsula. READ MORE
Details: 165A Deptford High Street, SE8 3NU | Open for dinner Mon-Sat, lunch Tues-Sat, and Sundays all day, from 12-8pm
Forza Win | Peckham
A wood-fired pizzeria pop-up turned South London chow house, this responsibly sourced, laid-back eatery is, as the name would suggest, an absolute win. The setting is as industrial as they come, housed in an old cash & carry warehouse in the shadow of the Bussey Building, but long communal tables, great music and even better negronis keep the atmosphere buzzy, warm and upbeat. The focus here is on responsibly sourced supplies served at a reasonable price for the love of the Italian cooking. All the big hitters can be found on the menu alongside an extensive aperitivi menu – something they’ll soon be expanding on with a nearby rooftop bar. READ MORE
Details: Unit 4.1 Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN | Open Weds-Sun
Maremma | Brixton
Maremma is Brixton’s take on Tuscan tuck. Named after an unspoilt stretch of Tuscany known for its top-notch nosh, Maremma looks to recreate the flavoursome and rustic cuisine of Northern Italy. The region is a hunting mecca, and you won’t have to hunt hard here to uncover numerous game and seafood dishes, cooked lightly to bring out the natural flavours complimented by potatoes, cheese, and beans. It’s simple and sumptuous, a feel that has been extended to the decor, which like most places these days, is stripped back and casual. The wine list contains a number of rare finds, many of which have never been showcased in the UK before, so you really can take your tastebuds on a little Tuscan holiday. READ MORE
Details: 36 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE | Open Tues-Sat
Like Italian food? Then you’ll be needing somewhere for a little Italian dancing, too…