Leo’s | Excellent Italian Dining in a Retro Cafe
Walking into Leo’s is a bit like an episode of Antiques Roadshow. You know, the ones where a seemingly innocuous, time-worn heirloom turns out to be utterly priceless…
…only in restaurant form.
Because, from the outside, this place appears to just be a dated greasy spoon or cafe from the ’70s, with its faded blue bubble font sign, battered door frame, and teeny-tiny pastel-purple tiles. Even stepping inside, at first the place still has that old canteen vibe, though everything is just a little more polished. You’ll find wood panelled walls dotted with retro posters, mid-century chairs with olive leather upholstery and mustard tables.
It’s only when you make your way through to the back that the white tablecloths start to pop up and you’ll enter the main restaurant section which has had what seems like a total transformation. It’s effortlessly sleek and simple with an incredible skylight, open-kitchen and empty wine bottles perched on ledged wooden panels. And it’s at this point that the antiques expert starts to say “Do you have any idea what you have here..?”
Because what you have is an absolutely fantastic little gem of an eatery. It’s all brought to you by the team that absolutely conquered the city’s brunch scene with Juliet’s Quality Foods in Tooting, and head chef Giuseppe Belvedere. If you don’t know him, he’s manned the induction hobs at P.Franco and then Bright before they were both abruptly closed, so he’s got a lot of talent to burn.
Here, he’s tapped into his Sardinian roots to whip up some modern Mediterranean dishes cooked over a wood fire. You can expect dishes like grilled asparagus topped with prosciutto served with a 60-month aged parmesan sauce, agnolotti stuffed with braised rabbit, and grilled lamb saddle with tomato salad and mint sauce during the evenings and café staples and espresso during the day.
As for drinks, Leo’s has got a strong booze game offering a large selection of low-intervention Italian wines, as well as a range of beer both on tap and by the bottle. However, if you fancy something harder, they’ve got negronis and G&Ts too.
Which is not too shabby at all.
NOTE: Leo’s Restaurant & Bar is open now. You can book a table for lunch or dinner here.
Leo’s | 59 Chatsworth Rd, Lower Clapton, E5 0LH
While we’re on the subject… here are the best brunches in London.