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TOP 5 ITALIAN RESTAURANTS IN LONDON
Of course it’s a hackneyed stereotype but despite the triteness of the aesthetic, I want every kitchen in every Italian restaurant to look like the jail scene in Goodfellas when the wise guys prepare the dinner. I want Paulie to be slicing the garlic with a Stanley blade, I want Vinnie in charge of the tomato sauce, Johnny smoking cigars whilst frying the meat. London has a plethora of Italian restaurants (none of them are a front for laundering money as far as I know) and here is a quick rundown of the ones you should try.
Capricci has also teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Davide Palluda to present a line of ready to serve recipes that will wow your senses whilst saving you time. In the Bankside shop of Capricci, passion for research meets a new way to approach the taste of London, through a proposed all-day dining concept that ranges from breakfast, lunch, aperitif to dinner. It has an open kitchen offset from the dining area, giving an intimate quality. The service is personable and genuine, the menu; nuanced. The risotto could have done with a little more adventure but the bottle of Masseto was flavoursome enough for its short comings. In fact the far wall which is adorned with bottles of wine from Italy featuring a unique region by region selection, is very much the restaurants USP. Moreover Capricci features a rich program of special events and “piatti del giorno” that will make any visit to the restaurant unique.
Cicchetti sounds like a formula one driver, or the second half of a buddy cop movie from the 80s that is remarkably in shape for a chain-smoker that drinks an 8-pack a day. Set right in the heart of Covent Garden’s theatre-land is the luxurious San Carlo Cicchetti which is perfect for a pre and post theatre pit stop. Cicchetti is the Italian version of tapas, so diners order a selection of small plates to share. The restaurant specialises in offering regionally sourced seasonal Italian cuisine. Much of the food is procured from the best producers in Italy such as Bottarga from Sardinia, Burrata from Naples, Culatello from Parma and of course autumn white truffle from Alba.
Executive Chef Arturo has just announced the new autumnal menu which demonstrates the new ‘Emerging Avista’ with a contemporary take on Italian food (Emerging Avista, coincidentally the same name I give to my wedding vegetables at the point of arousal). All pasta is lovingly handmade and the most delicious Italian bread imaginable is baked in-house. Diners can choose from a range of rustic yet contemporary dishes such as Sea Bream Tartare, pink grapefruit, fennel and tomato gazpacho and Veal ossobuco ravioli, candied ginger, broccoli, Tuscany pecorino and black truffle, not to mention the very Italian “Caesar” Salad.
Enoteca Rabezzana sounds like a hot Russian Bond girl. Of course she is more than just a piece of eye candy. She knows how to dismantle a thermal nuclear weapon, albeit whilst in a loin cloth bikini with Bonds hand on her arse. Eating at Enoteca Rabezzana is like being instantly transported to the Italian Riviera thanks to their carefully sourced ingredients and authentic Italian dishes. From regional classics to light tapas, this is the perfect way to indulge yourself. The wine list is exclusively Italian with a mix of the best micro producers and the Italian classics Barolos, Sassicaia and Brunellos.
Unlike Enoteca Rabezzana, Polpo does sound like a Bond girl that is purely there for eye candy. With many Polpo restaurants dotted around London, I thought I'd highlight the restaurant in the basement of Polpo Soho on Beak Street owned by Russell Norman (pictured above). The walls of exposed brick are peppered with original Campari advertisements from different eras of the twentieth century. A simple menu of hot and cold cichèti (Venetian bar snacks) is available along with a full cocktail and wine list. The Campari Bar can accommodate up to 14 people for a sit down meal, or up to 30 for an informal drinks party.