Aqua does Italy

Hong Kong-based restaurateur David Yeo is adding two Italian venues to his growing Aqua London portfolio this year – the informal Luci, which opened in Covent Garden last month, followed by Azzurra, a more upscale seafood specialist in Chelsea.

Aqua already has six restaurants in London, covering cuisines from East Asia to Spain – Hutong and Aqua Shard at London Bridge, Nueva, Kyoto and Spirit in Soho, and Shiro, which opened last year in Broadgate Circle. It also has has eight venues in Hong Kong, and others in the US and Dubai.

Luci, in Long Acre’s Yards development, offers takeaway sandwiches, snacks and pastries at ground level, with eat-in guests heading upstairs to find wood-fired pizza, focaccia, pasta dishes and a gelato bar.

Azzurra, which opens this autumn in Sloane Street, is altogether more ambitious, with food inspired by Sicily and the Amalfi coast and a kitchen led by Sardinian chef Andrea Mura.

David said: “I opened my first restaurant in 2000 and the scene has changed unrecognisably. Gone are the days when diners would be flocking to fine dining restaurants twice a week. We’re not going to be chasing Michelin stars or starching tablecloths. Azzurra is going to be all about that incredible Italian simplicity.

I also want to champion our own British fisherman. It will be a boat-to-table experience.” A ‘signature seasonal seafood platter’ will take pride of place, with the likes of Welsh lobster, Scottish langoustines, Sicilian red prawns, Japanese sea urchin, Colchester oysters and razor clams.

A big part of my research and development for Azzurra has focused on finding excellence. Take salt for example. We will have regional salts. Maldon, but Anglesey and Trapani too. Each salt is special in its own way. And we looked at olive oil in the same way.”

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