In a “slightly macho, New York sort of way”, this “smart” modernist Italian, at the foot of a swanky City-fringe office block, has made itself a “perfect business location”, and Francesco Mazzei’s “refined” cuisine almost invariably lives up; oddly, though, given the name, the operation can strike critics as “soulless”.
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This new Italian – in the City, of all places – is one of those rare restaurants that just knocks your socks off. Either we were extraordinarily lucky on our visit – it was, admittedly, one o...
Press Reviews (12)
Matthew Norman (2nd November 2009)
The critic would like to lash out at an establishment so identifed with the City and its works (and workers), but it turns out that this City Italian is “an infuriatingly good restaurant”. He finds the room “glacial” – “this must be the planet's grandest canteen” – but chef Francesco Mazzei’s food is “soulful in the extreme, bursting with the vibrancy of (primarily southern) Italian cooking, and worth the slightly eye-watering cost”.
Nicholas Lander (15th June 2009)
More a business appraisal than a review, really, but the critic gives an interesting background to this City newcomer, which won the Rémy Martin Excellence Award last year – the best new restaurant award which Harden’s runs for the famous brand of cognac.
Giles Coren (24th November 2008)
Cooking 8, Service 8, Something else to make the average overall score “8” 8, Score 8
The critic is impressed by this “new and expensive Italian restaurant in the City of London, financial heart of Great Britain, where starters get up to [nearly] £15 and a turbot main sneaks in at just under thirty”. Other reviewers should beware, though, if he again reads the phrases “in these impecunious times” or “relatively good value given the current climate”, he’s “going to snap off the sharp, red end of the FTSE graph and, and, and, ram it up, you know, well it’s a bit horrid, but, you know, up the bottom of the person responsible”.
Terry Durack (17th November 2008)
“[I]n spite of its pre-crunch prices”, this City-fringe Italian has been hard to ignore, says the critic. “Reviews have been practically evangelical, and it was recently named best new restaurant of the year in both Square Meal and the Harden's UK Restaurant Guide”. Broadly, the critic finds the guides’ conclusions vindicated. There is the occcasional quibble, “[b]ut there is no doubt that Francesco Mazzei, like Giorgio Locatelli 10 years ago at Zafferano, is a brilliant star in the making”.
Marina O’Loughlin (14th August 2008)
Ms O’L – not a City girl, she makes clear – finds this Italian newcomer “slightly bewildering”, although she has no doubt it is “a striking creation”. “[Y]ou'd have to be pretty jaded not to be impressed by the stark, monochrome beauty of the place.” As she notes, “[e]veryone who has reviewed it so far loves it to pieces”, and – in accordance with her peers – she finds the staff “beautiful”, and also “really helpful and engaging”. Her party “[doesn’t] eat anything that isn't jolly nice”, either – many dishes are “studies in simplicity”, and puddings “verge on awesome”.
Zoe Williams (5th August 2008)
“I like a posh Italian restaurant infinitely more than a posh French one”, says the critic. “They seem to be able to do serious food without all the pomp”, so this new City Italian, where chef turns out to be a “miracle worker”, pushes all of her buttons. She urges a visit “and fast, before it’s too full to book”.
John Walsh (15th July 2008)
Food: 3/5 stars
Jay Rayner (15th July 2008)
One of those reviews you don’t have to wait too long for the punchline. In the first sentence of his critique of this new City Italian (much praised elsewhere), the critic tells us that “I'm thinking of selling my house and moving to L'Anima”, and in the second that his lunch was “near-perfect”. It‘s a nicely written article, but everything else is really just detail. By the end, he is positively lyrical: “[w]hen food is as good as this, when the sensual and the physical become one, it does indeed transport you to another place”.
David Sexton (26th June 2008)
The critic hails Claudio Silvestrin’s “quite beautiful” design of this ambitious new City Italian. Minimalism, he notes, “is nothing but a refined form of luxury”, and it is done well here: “it's worth visiting just to experience the place itself”. As it happens, though, “the food alone would be worth the trip”. “L'Anima is about as expensive as an Italian restaurant can get but if you are up for paying these prices it's worth every penny. It makes you like London better to know that such a place can be created here and, I hope, sustained – even in these times.”
Richard Vines (26th June 2008)
“The wow factor's there before you even walk in”, notes the critic and, indeed, his piece turns out to be another hymn of praise to the City Italian that’s emerging as one of the best-reviewed newcomers of recent times.
Elena Berton (20th June 2008)
As we tend to agree with the Jan Moir view – that this Shoreditch newcomer is one of the best Italian restaurants to open in London in living memory – it’s rather a shame that it has been reviewed rather dismissively by TO. Bizarrely, they decided to run the Amima review second to – and shorter than – one on the Hoxton Pony, which is not principally a restaurant at all! Is it 'cos, seen through the TO prism, Hoxton is trendy, and the City isn’t? – seems an odd basis on which to prioritise reviews.
Jan Moir (12th June 2008)
Ms Moir comes to pretty much the same conclusion we did on this Italian newcomer in the City: “L’Anima is fabulous. It really is. It is a wonderful new restaurant, one of the best to open in London for a long, long time.” “For a capital city of world renown, it is odd that we have so few notable Italian restaurants”, she opines, “but here is one that is just as good, and in some respects better, than any other premier league pasta joint you can think of”.