Italian Restaurants in London
1. Clarke’s British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 124 Kensington Church Street - W8
“Never failing to excel, even after years and years…” – Sally Clarke’s Kensington HQ (opened in 1984) is nowadays a “classic”; and even those who say “it’s a bit of a time warp nowadays”, concede that her California-inspired cuisine is nigh-on as “modern and fresh” as ever. “The moment you step in, often to be welcomed by Sally herself, you know you are in for a wonderful evening, with imaginative but unpretentious dishes that are impeccably prepared – with great ingredients that are allowed to stand out – while service is always professional and present-without-hovering”. The atmosphere here has always been slightly divisive: for a few “dull” or “formal”, but to most diners – “with its artwork, soothing colors, and low noise level to allow plenty of engaging conversation” – romantic and “always a delight”.
2. Caraffini Italian restaurant in Pimlico 61-63 Lower Sloane St - SW1
“The maitre d’ remembered me from over 10 years ago and treated me like I’d given them my patronage every day of those 10 years!” – this “neighbourhood” stalwart trattoria is “a staple of the area” south of Sloane Square: “unchanging from year to year” and “like a home from home” for its many (generally silver-haired) regulars. “The menu may not have changed in years, but who cares?” – it’s “always reliable, and well-priced for the locale” – and its USP is its “wonderful staff”, who “treat you like royalty” and are so “friendly” (“they knew exactly how to banter with my grumpy daughter and exactly when to point out a good wine on the list”). “Heaven help us when it finally changes hands…”
3. Franco’s Italian restaurant in St James's 61 Jermyn St - SW1
Classic St James’s Italian, whose convivial and civilised quarters amd “totally reliable food” make it “one of the best all-rounders in the area” and, in particular, “a good choice for a business lunch” (or breakfast, which is very good here). It was opened in 1946 by the Wiltons group, and emerged from a major refurb in autumn 2019 with a new bar, refreshed decor and a menu shake-up. “Despite its popularity (and vintage), it retains a freshness both in the food and the service”, and while by no means cheap, regulars say “it always delivers”.
4. San Carlo Italian restaurant in St James 2 Regent Street Saint James's - SW1Y
‘Affordable glam’ is a defining feature of the national San Carlo group, and its large St James’s yearling on the lower half of Regent Street carries the classy, comfortable design of its nationwide siblings. “Efficient staff” and “excellent food” complete an all-round good-quality package.
5. Theo Randall at the InterContinental London Park Lane Italian restaurant in Mayfair InterContinental London, Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place - W1
“Exemplary Italian ingredients cooked to perfection” and “served impeccably by delightful people” has earned a glowing reputation for the English-born former River Café chef, whose dining room off the foyer of the 1970s-built Intercontinental Hotel tower near Hyde Park Corner provides some of London’s best Italian cuisine. The “soulless setting” always attracts adverse comment, although it is “much improved” since its renovation a few years back.
6. San Carlo Cicchetti Italian restaurant in Piccadilly 215 Piccadilly - W1
“Don’t be fooled by its prominent location, just off Piccadilly Circus, that it’s just one for the tourists” – this “bustling, noisy and so-atmospheric” Venetian brasserie (which also has a similar sibling, more tucked away in Covent Garden) “looks like a tourist trap, but offers an authentic culinary experience” with its “delicious small plates” (cicchetti) – “a format that caters to all appetites”, all at “reasonable prices”. Staff are “enthusiastic and professional” and “feed off the buzz of the place”, which “feels smart, even if tables are very close together”.
7. Morso Italian restaurant in Camden 130 Boundary Road - NW8
“This jewel-like place in a faintly unfashionable corner of St John’s Wood exceeds expectations” with “fresh pasta”, “friendly service”, and “an exciting grappa list”, plus “grappa-themed cocktails that really hit the spot”. Downsides? “It is very noisy”, and “the small-plates format means that bills can add up alarmingly”.
8. Sale e Pepe Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge 9-15 Pavilion Road - SW1
“Unchanged for donkey’s years!” – a “noisy and crowded”, old-school trattoria, near the rear entrance to Harrods, whose “at times flamboyant service” provides a heartily “friendly welcome”, plus traditional Italian cuisine, which loyal regulars declare “always reliable”.
9. Quartieri Italian restaurant in Kilburn 300 Kilburn High Road - NW6
“The tastiest Neapolitan pizza, with lots of delicious toppings”, wins fans for this “great neighbourhood joint” in Kilburn – thanks to its combination of “fail-proof classic choices and exciting, delightful specials” delivered by “service with a smile”, it’s “always filled with Italians”. Top Tip – “straccetti – deep-fried pizza dough with hazelnut chocolate for dessert – is out of this world!”.
10. Signor Sassi Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge 14 Knightsbridge Green - SW1
“Always a treat”, this old-school trattoria near Harrods is “just the place for traditional Italian hospitality”. Launched 36 years ago, it is now part of the upmarket San Carlo group and has branched out in recent years into the Middle East.
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