Ave Mario’s the biggest restaurant opening of 2021.
And we mean that literally, because while it doesn’t look that big from the front door, it actually stretches back and down another two floors. It’s brought to us by maximalist restaurant posse, Big Mamma Group. They’re the team behind pizza delivery brand Napoli Gang and also London’s biggest pre-covid openings, Gloria and Circolo Popolare. You know, the ones with 10-layer lasagnes, walls lined with 20 thousand liquor bottles, and perpetual queues lining the streets outside.
Head along, and you’ll find the entrance – covered in Italian stickers – on Henrietta Street.
On entering the restaurant you’ll immediately notice that in-house interior design team Studio Kiki has tipped its berretto in the direction of Florences’s famous zebra-striped Duomo cathedral, which means striped walls in the main skylight-illuminated dining space, complemented by and a fair amount of religious iconography too – in fact, the Ave Mario team are describing it as “our own cheeky interpretation of the Church, Version 2.0”. But while Florence is the main inspiration here, they’re not restricting themselves – liberally poaching ideas from “Liguria to Venice to Milan”.
As for the food? Well it’s all been carefully sourced directly from 180 Italian family-run suppliers, the majority since Big Mamma’s inception in 2015. To name and celebrate a few from their current menu: Mortadella from Giovanni Bertarini in Bologna; Salvatore Corso for the freshest mozzarella di bufala; burrata from Salvatore Montrone in Puglia; prosciutto ham by Devodier which has been matured 36 months in the cellars of Parma; Vittoria Calla’s smokey yet spicy ‘nduja from Calabria; 24-month-aged parmigiano reggiano from Gennari; gambero rosso freshly plucked from the Ionian sea; and Italian Baeri caviar from the Venetian Gavieri family. And when they haven’t been able to get the best of the best from Italy they’ve headed to our shores, where they’ve found high-welfare rose veal from Rachel & Jeannie in Shropshire, beef from Phillip and Ian Warren, and Big Mamma bespoke beers from Pig & Porter.
Carbonara ravioli filled with pecorino sauce, egg yolk and crispy guanciale flakes.
Captaining the food ship is 23 year old head chef Andrea Zambrano, who started out at Gloria before impressing everyone so much that they decided to give him the keys to his own kitchen. Highlights from his menu include carbonara ravioli; a gigantic breaded veal cutlet; a dedicated menu of Venetian caviar; pizza made using the traditional ‘Biga’ technique (resulting in what they describe as “the pillowiest pizza you’ll ever eat”) and a staggering 60cm-tall stracciatella ice cream cake marbled with chocolate…
Amen to that.
NOTE: Ave Mario is open for dinner daily, plus lunch Thurs & Fri and brunch on weekends. They accept walk-ins but you can also reserve a table – find out more, and book, HERE.
Ave Mario | 15 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QG
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