Ave Mario’s the biggest restaurant opening of 2021.
And you’re getting in first for an exclusive preview, in the week before it opens…
…with 50% off the bill.
No big deal.
But everything else about this place is a huge deal. Landing in Covent Garden for private previews next Friday 25th June (then opening to the public on Friday 2nd July) it comes to us from maximalist restaurant posse, The Big Mamma Group. They’re the team behind 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.
Well, this place is going to be even bigger. And they’ve kindly given us several hundred exclusive preview slots for Nudge Members to check it out before the public get in. (Register here)
Head along, and you’ll find the entrance on Henrietta Street. That’s not where the venue is of course, it’s too vast to fit on just one piddly street – it takes up two buildings stretching across to Maiden Lane, weighing in at 7,000 sq ft, with enough space to house 295 diners, two terraces, an indoor courtyard, a cocktail bar (decorated with 3,500 liquor bottles), two floors of restaurant space, and a ’70s-style mirrored basement nightclub with its own pizzeria. They’ve also lined up 120 staff to run it all (which is no mean feat in the current climate), and it looks like they’re going to need every one of them…
Not sure what that is but it looks delicious.
The interior designer has tipped their berretto in the direction of Florences’s famous zebra-striped Duomo cathedral, which means a lot of stripy walls (particularly in the main skylight-illuminated dining space) 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 Mama’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.
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: The Nudge Members’ preview nights are running on 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 June (and will include 50% off your final bill). The restaurant will then launch to the public on 2nd July. If you’re a Nudge Member and would like to secure a preview slot, please register your interest here.
Not a Nudge Member? Join Here
Ave Mario | 15 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QG
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