Italian Restaurants in Soho
1. Bocca di Lupo Italian restaurant in Soho 12 Archer St - W1
“Italian peasant-food fit for a king” – Jacob Kenedy’s “exceptional and distinctive” fixture, a short stroll from Piccadilly Circus, has carved a massive foodie following with its “wonderfully eclectic and ever-changing range of traditional dishes from across the country” (categorised by region, and available in ‘small’ or ‘large sizes’), with the “exciting” results “so simple and delicious you cannot believe it”. “And they’re complemented by a staggering wine list” which “is itself a trip through Italy” (“it’s worth having a detailed conversation with the wine waiter to discover outstanding vintages at sensible prices” with “lots of interesting options by the glass”). “Unsurprisingly, the place is always jammed”, and the “busy, café-style” interior with “closely packed tables” is such that “while mostly delightful, it’s bloody noisy” (“if not slightly manic”). But the “efficient and friendly staff” help keep the mood upbeat. Some guests “prefer the counter” – “there’s great kitchen theatre perched on the bar stools”.
2. Lina Stores Italian restaurant in Soho 51 Greek Street - W1D
“A tiny restaurant with a big heart… and wonderful pasta” – the “transition from great Italian deli to restaurant is a big success” at this landmark, 75-year-old Soho store, which morphed last year from pure retail to providing an “excellent, counter-dining experience at moderate prices” nearby. “If you love pasta, this is the place to go” – “delicately silky, with the most fantastic sauces” – and it’s “a brilliant stop-off before film, theatre etc”. It’s not going to take 75 years to turn this rip-roaring success into a chain, though: branch no. 2 opened in the second half of 2019 in one of King’s Cross’s ‘heritage buildings’: ‘an 100-cover outfit decorated in the same pale green-and white-stripes that diners in Soho have come to know’.
3. Bar Italia Italian restaurant in Soho 22 Frith St - W1
“A special place” – “frozen in time and all the better for it” – this atmospheric Soho institution defies caffeine fashion and is as perfect a location for a cup of coffee today as it was when it opened in 1949. It operates 24/7 – and don’t even think of bringing your laptop...
4. Mele e Pere Italian restaurant in Soho 46 Brewer Street - W1
“What a great find in Soho!” – “this quirky and funky place offers a nice twist on traditional Italian dishes”, and is “so much better than the chains”. “Looks tiny from the outside but has this ginormous expanse at basement level”, which “can be noisy”. “It’s not cheap but nor is it outrageously expensive for the area and quality”. There’s also an on-site aperitivo bar featuring home-made vermouth.
5. Dehesa Italian restaurant in Soho 25 Ganton Street - W1
Especially “on a rainy night, snuggled up in the window by candlelight”, this small modern tapas restaurant off Carnaby Street can still be a valued haunt. But its ratings have dropped sharply in the past two years as the Salt Yard Group changed hands. “The food used to be really delicious: the ideas are still good” – the “brilliant inclusion of Italian elements in the tapas” – but the realisation nowadays can be “mediocre”.
7. Bar Termini Italian restaurant in Soho 7 Old Compton St - W1
2018 Review: “Simply the best coffee you’ll find anywhere” is part of the resolutely and genuinely Italian approach at Tony Conigliaro’s tiny (expect no great encouragement to linger) but characterful Soho bar, known also for its definitive Negronis and authentic bites. In early summer 2017, a much larger ‘Centrale’ branch opened near Selfridges, with an expanded food offering including salads and panzerotti (akin to a fried mini-calzone).
8. Mister Lasagna Italian restaurant in Soho 53 Rupert Street - W1
2017 Review: A summer 2016 Soho opening serving nothing but lasagne (in no less than 21 different varieties). It’s open all day, offering pastries and coffee in the mornings, communal seating and takeaway, plus Italian liqueurs in the evening.
9. Pastaio Italian restaurant in Soho 19 Ganton Street - W1F
“Amazing fresh pasta that’s great value for central London” has carved a strong following for Stevie Parle’s “loud” and buzzy Kingly Court operation for a “swift”, “cheap ’n’ cheerful” bite.
10. Bancone Italian restaurant in Soho 10 Lower James Street - W1F
“Superbly-flavourful” pasta dishes at “extremely good-value” prices – especially for the West End – make Louis Korovilas’s “handy” two-year-old “one of the better options in the tourist centre” of town, just off Trafalgar Square. Some reporters feel it’s “let down by the long, narrow shape of the restaurant”, but more commonly it’s judged an “elegant, buzzing, if packed space”.
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