Italian food has never gone out of fashion in London and we’ve been booking our members tables at spots like The River Café and Cecconi’s for years. However, there’s a new wave of rustic, ingredient-led cooking drawing attention and putting the flavours of old-world Italy back in the spotlight.
Our specialists know a good plate of pasta when they try it and have singled out the very best places to sample the best Italian cooking in London right now.
2 Sir Simon Milton Square, Victoria
Jason Atherton has stepped into new ground with his first ever Italian restaurant, at Victoria’s new Nova complex. Chef Paul Hood has moved across from Michelin-starred Social Eating House and his modern take on Italian classics would impress even the most hardened traditionalist. There’s no ham and pineapple on the pizza menu – only the finest ingredients are used to grace the top of the fluffy sourdough bases; be sure to try the homemade fennel sausage, prosciutto, stracciatella and marjoram.
Concierge members can enjoy 20% off the bill at breakfast until 28 February.
5A Burlington Gardens, Mayfair
Sitting between Bond Street's designer boutiques and the art galleries of Cork Street, Cecconi's draws an eclectic crowd. Our members go there for morning meetings over fresh juices, intense espresso and eggs, a light lunch or weekend brunch while shopping, or entertaining evening meals. The menu is elegant Italian that ranges from Venetian cicchetti (Italian tapas) at the bar to swordfish tartare and deliciously fresh pasta like the excellent lobster spaghetti.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith
Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray opened this riverside Michelin-starred restaurant in 1987, serving wonderfully fresh Italian food to an adoring crowd – many of whom are still regulars. A wood-burning oven dominates the space inside and the open kitchen and young staff dressed in colourful T-shirts help keep the atmosphere informal. The menu changes twice each day and is entirely dependent on seasonal produce, sourced directly from carefully selected suppliers
20 Savile Row, Mayfair
This well-heeled restaurant has been around for years but it didn’t cause much of a stir until a full refit at the end of 2015 when Francesco Mazzei was appointed chef patron. The menu now shows how rustic Italian cooking can be given a modern twist, and every meal should include a plate of the rich wild mushroom and truffle polenta and the slow-roasted pork belly with sharp pickled vegetables.
When booking through concierge, you and your guests will receive a complimentary glass of fizz on the house.
12 Archer Street, Soho
This back-street restaurant has drawn rave reviews for its regionally-focused Italian cooking, spanning from Sicily to the Barbary Coast. Traditionalists can stick to a time-honoured antipasti-primi-secondi-dolci format, but this is a menu designed to be explored and shared, tapas-style, with flavours from Rome and Milan to the Dolomites and the Amalfi Coast. Grilled rib of beef with parmesan and rosemary is a rustic Tuscan dish that can’t be missed.
1 Cambridge Circus, Covent Garden
The second iteration of Jacob Kenedy’s Italian restaurant near Seven Dials is much better than the first and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. The counter service has gone and it’s now a proper sit-down dining room with excellent regional Italian classics and reservations. The service is under the control of Bocca di Lupo’s Victor Hugo and is seamless and friendly, while the menu takes diners on a sun-drenched romp around Italy.
62 Seymour Street, Marylebone
Throughout winter, concierge members have been getting comfy in the leather booths at Bernardi’s in Marylebone and enjoying some of the area’s best Italian food in a bid to bring back a hint of summer. The menu spans from the northern mountain ranges to the sun-drenched coastal areas and changes with the turn of the seasons. During winter, don’t miss the guinea fowl with king cabbage and lardo.
You can now begin your evening with a complimentary cocktail in the bustling basement bar, The Dog House, when booking a table through us.
46 Brewer Street, Soho
Former Arbutus and Wild Honey chef Andrea Mantovani's north Italian trattoria is up against stiff competition in the heart of Soho, where tapas-style small plate dining has become the norm. However, very few are on a par with his cooking, which expertly blends traditional recipes with modern techniques to create a colourful selection of dishes, ranging from rabbit macaroni to cod a la plancha with salsa verde.
Our members receive a complimentary glass of homemade vermouth per guest.
26 Paddington Street, Marylebone
The latest opening from restaurateur Kurt Zdesar (Chotto Matte) and chef Stefano Stecca (Locanda Locatelli) is stylish but undoubtedly rustic; the undulating brick ceiling mimics a traditional pizza oven or – if you prefer a more romantic image – the rolling hills of rural Italy. Every dish is a delight; our highlights were the polpo alla brace and maiale nero pork shoulder and you must try the burrata with vegetable caponata, served with fresh bread from the adjoining bakery.
300-302 St Paul's Road, Islington
This two-storey restaurant is known for its warm and friendly service that reflects the unpretentious Italian cooking. In the homely dining room, you can enjoy an array of antipasti such as bruschetta of rabbit braised in Chianti, followed by homemade pasta dishes like tagliarini with Cornish crab, chilli and lemon. It’s back in the spotlight after opening no-reservations pasta joint, Padella, in Borough. This is well worth a visit, but be prepared to wait in line.
3 Norris Street, St James's Market, Piccadilly
The fifth venue from the Salt Yard Group has moved away from its Spanish roots to focus on the flavours of Venice and the wider Veneto region. Executive Chef, Ben Tish – now in his eleventh year with the group – is in charge of the kitchen and his experience shines through in every dish; whatever you do, don’t miss the baked scallops with salty fried chunks of lardo with a sweet pumpkin purée.
Make a booking through concierge and we’ll make sure you and your guests are welcomed with a glass of Prosecco on the house.
88 St John Street, Clerkenwell
This opening from the Clove Club team burst onto the scene – and our favourite restaurants of the year list – at the end of 2016. Chef Isaac McHale showcases Italian cooking with a British twist and dishes like grouse ravioli with potato sauce and whisky are particularly delicious. The bustling modern dining room and note-perfect service make this a welcoming spot on a cold winter’s evening. The buzz is yet to die down, so contact us for the best chance of securing a reservation.
8 Seymour Street, Marylebone
Chef Giorgio Locatelli's Michelin-starred venture serves traditional Italian fare in sleek, modern surroundings. The simple, unfussy food scores points from our members: ranging through styles, regions and ingredients, all dishes are superbly cooked – with an emphasis on quality produce. It’s easy to get carried away with the homemade pasta but make sure you save space for the incredibly tender roast suckling pig with creamy mash and caramelised apple. Wash it down with a robust red from the all-Italian wine list.
Last updated on 16 February 2017