Italian food is undoubtedly one of the best-loved cuisines in London – you only have to look at the sheer number of Italian restaurants scattered across the capital to see that. We’ve picked out the best of the bunch, from Michelin-starred establishments to charming neighbourhood joints.
Murano may be her Michelin-starred place but little sister Café Murano, which also has a branch in St James’s, is the more typically Italian of Angela Hartnett’s restaurants. It’s more relaxed, meaning you can stop by for a quick pre-theatre bite or linger over a long meal. The menu draws influence from her own heritage as well as from the regions of northern Italy, so it features cicchetti like truffle arancini and salt cod fritters as well as antipasti, fresh pasta and grilled dishes. The Café Murano Pastificio – pasta factory, wine store, deli and café – is located right next door should you want some goodies to take home with you.
Opened in 2010 and beloved by locals ever since, Trullo serves a concise menu of simple and seasonal Italian fare, including fish and meat cooked over a charcoal grill and a handful of superb pasta options – the pappardelle with beef shin ragu in particular is legendary. Their pasta is actually so good that owners Tim and Jordan opened Padella, a pasta-focused offshoot in London Bridge in 2016, and still queues snake out the door.
This unassuming Kentish Town spot has gained quite the reputation despite being easy to miss, tiny and not open for very long. The simple surrounds belie the exceptional food coming out of the kitchen; the menu changes daily but has featured the likes of salt cod ravioli and chargrilled lamb chops with caponata and artichoke, and they make their own gelato and sorbet here too.
Theo Randall is one of the titans of Italian cooking in the UK, earning a Michelin star during his time at The River Café, and he showcases all his skill at this eponymous restaurant at Park Lane’s InterContinental Hotel. The changing menu is packed with some of Italy’s finest produce like Volpaia vinegar (used in a dish of chicory, anchovies and capers), Castelluccio lentils and datterini tomatoes (served with bavette and radicchio) and Amalfi lemons (used for a lemon tart). And just like the food, the wine list is highly seasonal too.
Modelled after a traditional Italian trattoria, albeit with a little Soho style, Bocca di Lupo prides itself on serving food and wine from all regions of Italy, as well as artisan gelato from sister company Gelupo. As with all good Italian restaurants, the menu changes according to the season, but you can find everything from Puglian bombette to Venetian langoustines to Roman baccala coming out of the kitchen and both familiar wines and obscure bottles in the cellar.
Giorgio Locatelli’s Locanda Locatelli is strongly rooted in traditional Italian cookery with flavour combinations such as gnocchi with goat’s cheese and black truffle and pan-fried calf’s liver with Swiss chard, balsamic vinegar and pine kernels being celebrated. It’s as comforting as home-cooked food but executed to a Michelin-star standard. Don’t skip over the wine list as many regional Italian bottles are available by the glass.
Peckham’s Artusi is a simple, minimal, neighbourhood restaurant that treats seasonal produce without pretension, with the kitchen focusing on making the food delicious rather than showy. Fresh pastas feature on the changing menu as do plates like salt cod with grilled polenta and watercress and cannoli with homemade ricotta, rhubarb and pistachio. They also put on a family-style sharing menu for bigger groups and the large table in front of the open kitchen is the best place to enjoy this.