We’re partial to a bit of Italian on a Saturday for lunch. Isn’t everyone? Whilst Italian cuisine is one of the best in the world (or THE best if you’re speaking to my Italian husband) there can be bad or ‘meh’ Italian restaurants. Believe me, there is nothing more disappointing than overcooked, bland pasta or pasta drowning in sauce! So, as I’m often asked which ones are our favourites I thought I’d put them in a handy blog post. So here are the best Italian restaurants in London (according to me!), in alphabetical order.
Bocca di Lupo
Situated right in the heart of Soho, Bocca di Lupo (wolf’s mouth, with the wolf being the symbol of Rome) has been open since 2008 and offers a trattoria feel with a touch of glamour. Serving authentic regional Italian dishes, it’s popular so definitely book in advance and specify whether you’d like a counter seat or a table. We enjoy sitting at the counter so we can see the chefs cook. Despite the reference to Rome, it offers dishes from across Italy’s 20 regions. It’s fairly pricey but is a real treat from time to time.
Translated, Briciole means breadcrumbs which explains their pretty old-fashioned sign and logo. But don’t let that put you off as inside, the restaurant is charming. They also have a semi-open kitchen so you can see the chefs at work as well as a deli at the front. Their menu is seasonal and it’s the first place I ever tried bottarga, which is an Italian delicacy of salted, cured fish roe grated over spaghetti. Delicious! Price-wise it’s affordable and the portions are quite big by London standards – and Marylebone, where they’re situated.
Located across from Chiltern Firehouse on Blandford Street (which can be perfect for people watching or celeb spotting), Il Baretto has been a Marylebone neighbourhood staple since 2008. They have outdoor tables, seating upstairs and downstairs. Our preference is to sit upstairs by the window.
Trust me and order the tomato pizza bread as a starter – or in place of bread – as it’s so delicious! They have an open wood burning oven, which makes all the difference. We always order it immediately as it’s pretty quick to make and then peruse the menu.
There are a lot of vegetarian choices, for those of you who don’t eat meat, such as Bigoli cacio e pepe and Tortelloni with mushroom and black truffle. Some highlights from the menu are the home-made pappardelle with wild boar ragu and the tagliolini with lobster.
Legare, in Shad Thames, has been awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide and it’s not hard to see why. The menu is small but mighty! All the pasta is fresh and made by hand daily. The menu is seasonal and changes regularly.
The purple sprouting broccoli fritti, with aioli, were a particular highlight. Although I love fried things!
Another highlight was the puntarelle salad with squid. The first time I had puntarelle – which is a variety of chicory – was at Manteca. That one was also delicious but had anchovy in the sauce, which is not my favourite. This one was lighter and the squid was perfectly cooked and grilled.
There are only three pasta dishes on the menu with one on the specials board, one of which is vegetarian. However I think they can be accommodating where possible. I had the duck agnolotti and my husband had the vegetarian pasta, Tajarin burro e salvia (pasta with butter and sage).
Legare is a lovely little restaurant with delicious food and good service. Shad Thames is also a gorgeous area of London, with its cobbled streets, and the restaurant is right by Tower Bridge.
Lina Stores started life in London as a deli on Soho in 1944. In recent years they have opened a restaurant near their deli in Soho, one in Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross and they’ve got one opening in Marylebone. We’ve been to the Soho and King’s Cross locations numerous times because we love their food. It’s decent portions at an honest price!
The menu doesn’t change that often but there will always be some new and seasonal dishes to try. If you spot the fried artichoke, definitely order it – it’s so good!
If you’re vegetarian, there are plenty of options for you too with at least two or three pasta dishes to choose from. We tend to choose three pasta dishes to share between the two of us.
As well as loving their food, I adore their decor, which is 1950s style – so cool! The King’s Cross location also has a small deli and outdoor tables when the weather is nice.
Luca is a lovely Italian restaurant in Clerkenwell, just a 5 minute walk from Farringdon Station. It consists of a bar, dining room and outside terrace as well as private dining rooms.
We ate in the dining area and it’s got lots of lovely, natural light and is really nicely decoated with art deco touches. The terrace looked beautiful and perfect for Summer days.
The menu is fairly small but has plenty of dishes to choose from. Luca uses high-quality, seasonal produce from around the UK and Italy. You absolutely must try the Parmesan fries – so delicious!
The pasta courses are served as a primi dish (a starter size), however you can choose to have them as a main. The rigatoni with sausage ragu was a real highlight and our server told us it was their most popular pasta dish. The agnolotti carbonara with speck was also very good.
The setting at Luca is really lovely, the food is great and the service was friendly and professional. It is on the pricey side though – but worth it.
We first discovered Margot whilst watching Celebrity Masterchef and have been regulars ever since! In fact, some friends I recommended it to are now also regulars! Situated in Covent Garden, towards Holborn, Margot is very elegant with counter and table seating. There are also a few outside tables for when the weather is good.
We always opt for counter seating as there is an open kitchen and we love watching the chefs at work. Downstairs, there is a gorgeous 1930s art deco room with tables and a fabulous bar – which can be hired privately. The food is great and there’s always specials on the menu. It is pricey though but well worth it. And if you’re an interior décor fan, you’ll love this restaurant.
Manteca is a ‘nose-to-tail’ Italian-inspired restaurant, focusing on whole-animal butchery (so as not to waste anything). Their pasta is handmade, their bread is wood-fired and they have an in-house salumeria. The restaurant is divided into two rooms and I’d recommend asking to be seated where the open kitchen is.
The menu is quite small, which always appeals to us as it means there is more focus and attention on the food. They also change the menu pretty regularly. And whilst the emphasis is on ‘nose-to-tail’, there are vegetarian options on the menu too. The food is on the pricey side, however it’s really excellent and well worth the money.
Manteca is located in Shoreditch, which is one of my favourite areas of London. After dining on some delicious food, you can digest by walking around and checking out all the markets and street art! You can also pop into Eataly afterwards to stock up on Italian goodies.
Fancy a Michelin-starred Italian meal? Then I’d recommend Murano by Angela Hartnett. The restaurant is located in Mayfair, near the Ritz, and looks very posh – which my husband isn’t too keen on – but it’s not stuffy or pretentious at all.
I love how you get a variety of little nibbles, such as some arancini, nocellara olives, delicious foccacia and salumi to start.
The food is elegant and sophisticated, as you’d expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. It’s also seasonal and uses high quality ingredients. We loved the Autumnal burrata with figs and walnuts – a real highlight! Murano is perfect for a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary. Fantastic food and excellent service.
Located in Old Street, Officina 00 is an authentic Italian restaurant and pasta making workshop, by Elia Sebregondi and Enzo Mirto. They pride themselves on quality and authenticity as they are two characteristics that are integral to Italian cuisine.
There is both counter seating and tables to choose from. As always, we opt for counter seating to watch the chefs at work!
Sometimes you may even see a pasta workshop in progress as it’s situated in a corner of the restaurant. The students then get to eat their pasta afterwards!
This has been our local favourite for years and it’s where my husband orders his pizza takeout from. No open kitchen though! The menu is pretty much always the same, however there is always a weekly specials menu. The food is great, the bread is divine as it’s made in a wood oven, portions are big and prices are reasonable. On warm days they open up the sliding windows, which is always nice – almost as good as eating outside! Whenever we go we often see familiar faces, giving testament to their status as a local favourite in West Hampstead.
Ok… so technically The Ninth isn’t Italian as such – they describe themselves as French, with Mediterranean-style cooking. However, there were enough (incredible) Italian dishes on the menu that I had to include it!
It’s a Michelin starred restaurant by chef Jun Tanaka and is situated on Charlotte Street. The concept is to order dishes to share. When we went they had crispy artichoke with aioli on the menu, which is inspired by Jun’s trips to Rome, and they were insanely good. In fact, so good that we ended up ordering four! Whenever I see crispy or fried artichoke on a menu, I have to order it as it’s not something I’d ever make at home.
There were three pasta dishes on the menu, which can be served as both small or large portions. As we wanted to try them all, we ordered the small portions. Each pasta dish was absolutely delicious but my favourite had to be the cuttlefish malloreddus with crispy squid and bottarga. It tasted like the sea! I loved how the crispy squid added texture.
We had a brilliant meal at The Ninth and will definitely be returning.
We’ve been to Via Emilia in Hoxton Square a few times over the years. It’s a small restaurant, only seating 40 people at a time, so booking is recommended. What we love about it is that it serves food from across my husband’s region, Emilia-Romagna.
You absolutely have to order the Gnocco Fritto (or crescentina, as we call it) with salmumi and Squacquerone (a soft cheese). It’s like a fried bread and it’s absolutely delicious!
The menu is fairly small, which is always a good thing in my opinion. Whilst it’s small, there’s still a good choice of dishes, including quite a few vegetarian options. Expect to see pasta such as tagliatelle with Bolognese ragu, tortellini in brodo and ravioli with butternut and sage on the menu. The pasta dishes are very reasonably priced at between £6.50 and £12.
Lovely little restaurant, delicious pasta, excellent wine and great service!
Which Italian restaurants in London would you recommend? I’d love to know so my husband and I can check them out!