London is truly an international city. Its multiculturalism is well known but to actually appreciate what the myriad of cultures does to London requires a visit. The coming together of different communities and cultures have shaped London and allowed it to offer so much more than many other cities around the world.
There’s a British culture, of course, but the shared culture is what makes London what it is.
Take food, for example, some of the best restaurants in the world can be found in London and they offer cuisine from a huge number of different countries and cultures. Nowhere else in the world gives this much choice when it comes to what to eat.
Italian cooking is one example. Italian cuisine is popular around the world because of its taste and simplicity. It’s a tough task to find anyone who doesn’t like pizza and pasta but those two things are only the start of what is actually an extensive and unique menu. It’s a cuisine that can excite both grown ups and children alike and has hands down won the competition for the most popular family cuisine in the world.
Even in France, which is notoriously stubborn when it comes to the appreciation of other cuisines, it’s possible to find an Italian restaurant in most towns.
London, as expected, offers a huge choice of Italian restaurants. From the more American influenced pizza joints to the much more upmarket Italian offerings, some of which carry Michelin stars.
It’s difficult to produce a list of the best Italian restaurants in London because each one brings a unique offering to the table. Some are best for pasta, pizza or cured meats and cheeses, others for the wine and some simply have some of the best atmospheres of any eateries in London.
Here are a small selection of some of London’s best Italian restaurants.
10 Heddon Street
This is a restaurant that prides itself on doing the essentials of Italian cooking well, and one of the first things that’s always considered is the freshness of the pasta. Here it is made on-site by the chefs themselves so the freshness of each and every pasta dish is absolutely guaranteed. The effort doesn’t disappoint.
The sauces aren’t bad either. A frequent request in this restaurant is for “more bread,” as more is often required in order to ensure every last scrap of sauce is devoured.
The decor is brick warehouse, stylish, modern but comfortable. It’s a great place to discover what Italian food is all about.
A restaurant with a great location, sitting in the shadow of the iconic Tower Bridge, but it also does its food rather well too.
The pasta dishes are fresh and exciting, the mozzarella is thick and meaty and the olive oil is rich and adds a fantastic flavour to the salads on offer.
The antipasti and starters are constantly changing so regular visitors always have something new and exciting to try.
Despite its grand location the restaurant retains a nice homely feel, something which is vital to the atmosphere of an Italian restaurant. The waiters are engaging and friendly and exceptionally knowledgeable on the wine list, effortlessly matching each dish perfectly.
Not the most typical of names for an Italian restaurant but superb Italian dishes do dominate the menu. The name actually comes from the greengrocer who used to occupy the cosy little space near Borough Market.
The best this little eatery has to offer are the little tasting plates including pappardelle, mussels and a great variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
There’s also European cheeses and cured meats to enjoy whilst having a glass or two of wine. The venue actually doubles up as a wine bar so the vino offering is pretty good too.
For anyone who finds themselves south of the river and in need of an Italian fix, this small restaurant is located a stone’s throw away from the main Brixton thoroughfare.
The simply decorated two storey restaurant is actually owned and run by two Brits, who simply loved Italian food so much they decided to do it for a living.
The simple dishes here are some of the best ones, the Battuta with aioli mustard is a particular stand out, as is the wild boar ragu. The grilled branzino (bass) is a lighter dish that’s perfect for anyone with a smaller appetite.
This Islington restaurant has long been considered one of the best Italian restaurants in the city and its reputation is well deserved.
The decor is simple and perfectly rustic with wooden chairs sitting alongside white linen covered tables.
The menu changes every day but never disappoints. The bruschetta is always fantastically fresh and the meat dishes served up from the charcoal grill are certainly not to be missed. However, the real star of the show is the pasta. Each and every pasta dish is better than the last and this is the thing that keeps the tables in here packed every day of the week.
Back south of the river to Peckham and one of the best local Italian restaurants you could imagine. The people of Peckham have been very fortunate to have this eatery open within such close proximity.
This is an Italian restaurant which is a little bit more modern in its vibe. It oozes class but shuns pretension. The dishes look fantastic but the real effort has gone into the taste which is where this restaurant excels.
The menu is constantly changing to suit the seasons and the regulars will always be seen checking out the chalkboard for things they haven’t yet tried.
The staff here are very friendly and help to create the laid back atmosphere that keeps people coming back. The decor may be modern but it is also very simplistic with plain white walls and school like chairs and tables. There’s really no need for a fancy interior when the food is this good!
Possibly one of the most authentic Italians to be found anywhere outside of Italy, Gloria prides itself on being a little bit of Italy in London.
The restaurant is based in Shoreditch but after walking through the doors anybody would be forgiven for thinking they were in a restaurant in the heart of Rome!
All of the staff are Italian and the menu boasts all of the Italian classics you would expect from a restaurant in the home country, including a vast range of pizza and pasta. All of the ingredients are of course flown in from Italy so are as authentic as they possibly can be.
It has to be said, Gloria does take an exciting detour from traditional in some aspects of its menu, with some much more experimental and fun dishes being available too.
Located in Mayfair, one of the most upmarket areas of London this restaurant offers classic Italian cuisine in a pretty swanky setting.
The ceilings are high and the glassy interior makes the place appear as high class as some of the famous hotels it sits amongst.
There’s a daily fresh fish dish on the menu which is always recommended most highly but the rest of the menu is pretty fantastic too. There’s a huge choice of pasta, meat and fish and pizza, the latter being perfectly prepared in a wood fired oven.
However, for the most elaborate service, the fish of the day has to be experienced.
Bocca di Lupo
A restaurant with a buzz that is rightfully deserved, located right in the hustling, bustling centre of Soho.
It is apparently a favourite hang-out for celebrities so spotting who’s in that night is a great game whilst waiting for food.
The menu, it has to be said, is a bit haphazard and confusing, not helped by the fact that the place is usually so buzzing that it’s impossible to hear anything the waiter is saying!
Fortunately the dishes are always spot on and it’s difficult to go too far wrong. The wine list is pretty impressive too, but the atmosphere makes it all too easy to be enticed by the extensive cocktail list.
Italian connoisseurs will spout that a decent Italian is not all about the food it’s also about the ambience. The space should be cramped, the tables close together and everybody on each and every table must have an inability to talk quietly. In other words, the restaurants needs to be busy and loud.
Circle Popolare ticks that box. It’s not a place for an intimate dinner for two.
The first hurdle here is to actually get a table in the first place, it’s a very popular venue and expect a queue.
This is the sister restaurant to Gloria but offers a very different experience as the menu is very specifically Sicilian as opposed to general Italian, so some dishes will be quite different to what people are perhaps used to.
The decor is fantastic and provides one of the most photogenic backdrops of all the restaurants on the list. The ceiling is covered in green and purple foliage and fairy lights and the walls feature row after row of coloured alcohol bottles, backlit to produce a proper party atmosphere.