From sleek, high-end establishments to traditional, rustic joints serving regional specialities, Covent Garden is packed with Italian restaurants. When you get a craving for some authentic Italian food, these are the places to go.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian, $$$
Southern Italian food is the speciality at Sartori, with even the chefs coming from Naples. Their metre-long wood-fired pizzas are deservedly popular, but they have a long menu that’s packed with Italian classics and regional Italian wines.
Cocktail Bar, Hotel Restaurant, Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, Peruvian, $$$
Italy meets Peru at Monmouth Kitchen, located on the ground floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel. The menu is split right down the middle between Peruvian and Italian cuisine, so you can chop and change between antipasti, pizza, risotto, ceviche, tacos and anticuchos. The mix extends to the cocktails, with pisco sours sharing space with bellinis.
Interior of Café Murano in Covent Garden | Courtesy of Café Murano / Angela Hartnett
Cousin to Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-star Murano and little sister to the branch in St James’s, Café Murano Covent Garden may be the most laid-back in the family, but the cooking is nonetheless at a very high level. The focus is on flavours from the north of Italy, with the kitchen showing just how good uncomplicated Italian food can be, with dishes such as tomato panzanella, sausage ragu and grilled tuna with pistachio and mint pesto. The place has a buzzy atmosphere but you don’t feel rushed by the service, so you can really linger over those excellent plates of food.
Although it opened only in late 2016, Margot has firmly established itself on the Covent Garden dining scene thanks to its grand atmosphere and old-school service. It’s on the pricier side (and with over 350 wines on their list, it’s easy for the bill to rack up) but you can definitely see where your money is going with a great selection of cured meats, carpaccios and tartares, as well as rich dishes like red mullet with burrata sauce, baked veal osso buco and fish ravioli with bottarga.
Interior of San Carlo Cicchetti in Covent Garden | Courtesy of San Carlo Cicchetti
Like at the original San Carlo Cicchetti in Piccadilly, the menu at the Covent Garden branch is based around cicchetti, the Venetian take on small plates. There is a broad selection of dishes as the menus at San Carlo restaurants are famously large, so you may have a hard time choosing. With its sweeping marble bar, it’s also a great place to drop in for a glass of wine.
After opening in Soho in 2009, there are now six outposts of Polpo in London and it’s become a firm favourite, having won the Michelin Bib Gourmand award multiple times. The Covent Garden site has the same signature shabby-chic decor as the others, but it also has a larger bar, so you can have a glass of wine or a spritz while you’re queuing for a table – there are no reservations here. It’s a Venetian-inspired sharing menu, with the array of meatballs being particularly noteworthy.
Exterior of Augustus Harris | Courtesy of Augustus Harris
Named after the manager of the Drury Lane Theatre in the late 19thcentury who was famous for enjoying his food and drink, Augustus Harris brings the Venetian bacari – places where people would meet to drink wine, share snacks and socialise – to Covent Garden. It’s a cross between a coffee shop and a wine bar, serving cicchetti, crostini, salumi, cheese and of course, Italian wine and coffee, with sandwiches available to take away at lunchtime.
Run by Italian couple Maria and Corrado, Da Mario is an understated restaurant that cooks up Italian classics, including a wide variety of pastas and meat dishes. It’s small and simple, but has a convivial atmosphere that you only get at family-run joints.
This winery and bistro specialises in food from the Puglia region of Italy. The dishes are simple and rustic, showcasing the quality produce of the area, like olive oil, broad beans and burrata. The wine list features bottles from across the country as well as varieties from the Li Veli winery in Salento. If you stumble across one you particularly like, you can also buy bottles to take home.