20 Of The Best Italian Restaurants In London For A Taste Of La Dolce Vita

food, 20 of the best italian restaurants in london for a taste of la dolce vita

16 Of The Best Italian Restaurants In London For A Taste Of La Dolce Vita

London’s pasta revolution shows no signs of slowing down. And with each new Italian restaurant opening in London, the better the dishes get. There’s now a huge variety of fresh pasta (pasta fresca to the cognoscenti) as well as other traditional regional dishes, and guess what? They’re just like mamma used to make them.

Whatever the neighbourhood, everyone seems to have a favourite local Italian restaurant in London. From central institutions such as Ciao Bella on Lambs Conduit Street to south London’s Trattoria Raffaele, which was voted best restaurant in London by TripAdvisor in 2016, no one can resist the lure of a good Italian restaurant.

And with new openings this year including Manteca in Soho (from the team behind 10 Heddon Street) and another outpost of the hugely popular Padella opening in Shoreditch, there’s even more pasta shapes to sample.

Just promise us one thing? You’ll round off your meal with a tiramisu (which literally translates as ‘a little pick me up’ in Italian). These are the best Italian restaurants in London – buon appetito tutti!

food, 20 of the best italian restaurants in london for a taste of la dolce vita

Bardo St James

You’ll be forgiven for thinking like you’ve just stepped into a plush Italian restaurant right in the heart of Rome on entering Bardo St James, such is the welcoming and chic atmosphere the eatery offers diners within minutes of opening its doors.

Located at One Pall Mall and offering live jazz every night, this high-end restaurant has a walk-in wine cellar, a private lounge, a private dining room and a marble bar for those who like to catch up over nibbles and cocktails. The restaurant’s seasonally evolving menu – courtesy of Executive Chef Graziano Bonacina – sees diners treated to everything, from Tartufo Nero and Carpaccio di gamberi rossi, to Burrata, a scrumptious Ravioli cacio e pepe, Cavolo Nero, Branzino arrosto and more. Our favourites? The scrumptious creamy mushroom Polenta Morbida and Branzino arrosto.

If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to head down here immediately, if only to tuck into the tiramisu, Cannoncino ‘Mont Blanc’ and gastronomical delight that is the Torta di rose.

Location: 4 Suffolk Pl, London SW1Y 4HX
Click here to find out more.

food, 20 of the best italian restaurants in london for a taste of la dolce vita


It’s rare for a restaurant to be so inviting, chilled and serve the most delicious tipples and plates that it makes you want to stay until closing. But that’s exactly the result you can expect from Islington’s recently opened pasta joint, Noci, courtesy of ex-Bancone chef Louis Korovilas, who finds inspiration for his menu from his travels across Italy.

To start, the helpful servers will offer everything from the cocktails on tap and espresso martinis, to the house peach spritz and pout-inducing negronis. Believe us, the drinks really help you tackle the menu given you’ll undoubtedly want to order everything on offer. If you’re thinking about heading to Noci with a friend/partner, we suggest sharing so you can taste as much as possible from the menu.

Begin by ordering the melted parmesan, saffron and ‘nduja, pecorino and arancini, followed by the burrata dish – served with roast peaches and mint – and charred octopus, accompanied by lemon dressed potatoes, ‘nduja and ricotta. For the main course, we couldn’t think of a better trio than the buttery cacio e pepe ziti, veal and pork Genovese ragu, and the signature silk handkerchiefs, served with razo clams and a soy cured egg yolk. To end the meal, why not share the oozing gianduja chocolate and hazelnut budino or miso panna cotta?

*Books another table.*

Location: 4-6 Islington Green London N1 2XA
Click here to find out more.

a bowl of food on a plate


If you can never manage to get a table at Covent Garden’s mecca for fresh pasta, fear not. A brand new, larger restaurant has opened in Soho so you’re much more likely to get a fix of the classic bucatini cacio e pepe, or the more adventurous silk handkerchiefs, walnut butter and confit egg yolk.

‘Bancone’ means bar or counter, so if you’re dining as a pair we’d advise getting a spot there to make the experience even more authentic. And don’t miss the pastai (pasta-makers) rolling out the day’s pasta in the window of the Covent Garden restaurant.

Locations: Golden Square and Covent Garden
Click here to find out more.

a group of people standing in a kitchen preparing food

16 Of The Best Italian Restaurants In London For A Taste Of La Dolce Vita

It’s the one Londoners have all been waiting for. On July 2 the Big Mamma Group – the masterminds behind the culinary successes of the Gloria and Circolo Popolare restaurants – is launching its third and largest restaurant in the capital slap bang in Covent Garden.

Ave Mario is sure to be an Italian food lover’s dream as we hear the chefs will be cooking up classic dishes – ‘with a spin’ – like carbonara raviolo, a Mean & Green pesto pasta and a 60cm tall ice cream cake (…when in Rome London?) . Leave here filled with a full belly, heart and Instagram feed.

Location: Covent Garden
Click here to find out more.

a group of people in a room


Every day at 4pm Trullo prints its menu for that evening. This daily masterpiece will feature anything from an antipasto of mozarella di bufula with bottarga (cured fish roe) to pappardelle with beef shin ragu.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Trullo is a north London institution, and when you’re dining in the elegantly fitted restaurant you feel like you could be tucked away in the streets of Milan. Leave space for the vanilla pannacotta with grappa, and then you really will feel like you’re in bell’Italia.

Location: Highbury East
Click here to find out more.

a living room filled with furniture and a large window


If you haven’t heard of the wildly popular Gloria, and its sister restaurant Circolare, then you might just have been living under a rock for the past year.

The wonderfully kitsch and OTT restaurants, which are part of the Big Mamma Group, are the places to go to if you want to step into a completely different world – one that’s reminiscent of 1970s Capri and filled with pasta served in parmesan wheels and mountainous lemon pie. Yes, please!

Locations: Shoreditch and FitzroviaClick here to find out more.

a bowl of soup


This is the new kid on the block, but it has some serious muscle up against its competitors. The proof is in the pasta (sorry, couldn’t resist).

From the team behind the much-loved 10 Heddon Street, Manteca is just off Oxford Street so the perfect mid- or post-shopping pit stop.

We’ll forgive you if you want to order everything on the menu (we did!). Start with the house-made mortadella, delicious wafer-thin cuts of meat and move on to the mushroom ravioli with dried sage and black truffle, before sharing the delicate beef rib. But whatever you do, leave space (or undo a trouser button) for the pear and almond tart.

Locations: Oxford Street
Click here to find out more.

food, 20 of the best italian restaurants in london for a taste of la dolce vita


A shiny new addition to Crystal Palace triangle, Palazzo (clever word play there) is an Italian bar and diner from the stellar team behind Made of Dough. This is a real passion project, combining everything they love about music, food and drink, and it shows.

A cool , bright space that would draw in even the most harried passerby, expect hearty pizzas such as the pork and fennel sausage with oyster mushrooms. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, there are tasty small and large plates, including oozing burrata, mortadella and delicious pork and veal meatballs.

On the weekends, there’s an all-day brunch menu featuring a Morning Glory espresso, ago and vanilla shake and ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb. The weekend is also when Palazzo’s record library comes to life with DJs playing until 1am. Plenty of time for another negroni or three.

Click here to find out more.

a dish is filled with different types of food on a plate


If you can never choose which pasta dish to go for, Pastaio is the place to go to. Opened by chef Stevie Parle just off Carnaby Street there’s now a second outpost in Westfield White City, with more restaurants in the pipeline.

Order big – we recommend the carbonara bucatini, guanciale, egg yolk with Pecorino, and the ‘weekly special’ for something different – and then twist and slurp the fresh pasta together with your fellow diners.

Location: Oxford Street
Click here to find out more.

a plate of food


The menu changes regularly, the wine is naturale and the pasta is of course freshly made a mano at Legare, the recently opened neighbourhood Italian in south London.

By Tower Bridge, Legare’s menu is deliciously simple. Expect a choice of spuntini (‘snacks’) including a single gnocco fritto to die for, antipasti and pasta dishes that include orechiette with fennel sausage and cavolo nero ragu (pictured).

Location: Tower Bridge
Click here to find out more.

many different types of food on a plate

Lina Stores

The much-loved Lina Stores has recently opened up in King’s Cross, and the restaurant & deli is so welcoming we’d secretly like to live there.

Imagine waking up to the breakfast menu of Nutella-filled doughnuts and truffled-scrambled eggs washed down with a strong Italian coffee. And then settling in for the day for some of the best fresh pasta in London. Ravioli di zucca is our favourite wintertime dish.

Locations: King’s Cross and and Soho
Click here to find out more.

a plate of food with stew

Trattoria Raffaele

A south London neighbourhood favourite, Trattoria Raffaele was named London’s best restaurant by Tripadvisor in 2016. The family-run Sydenham Italian restaurant couldn’t get more authentic: think red-and-white checked tablecloths and owner Raff, giving everyone a warm welcome.

We recommend trying the specials and leaving room for the tiramisu or a delicious affogato (ice cream ‘drowned’ in coffee).

Location: Sydenham
Click here to find out more.

a pizza sitting on top of a wooden table

Zia Lucia

Zia Lucia is taking over London one slow-fermented pizza at a time. Since opening the original site on Holloway Road in 2016, the restaurant now has locations in Kensington, Boxpark Wembley and in February 2020 they’ll be opening in Aldgate East.

The atmosphere is always buzzing and there’s a great selection of bases to suit all tastes, including a vegetable charcoal base. They’ve also named their wood-fired ovens: Dante, Wally and Nerone.

Locations: Kensington, Wembley and Aldgate East
Click here to find out more.

a piece of food on a plate


Another neighbourhood gem, Maremma is the name of a region in Tuscany that is known for its amazing produce. The menu here is small but perfectly formed and the salumi, cheese and olives are all imported from the best producers in Tuscany so the taste is more-ishly authentic.

Start as an Italian would…with a negroni and try regional specialities including the chestnut taglietelle and the polenta with porcini mushrooms. And if you’re feeling flash, treat yourself to a Super Tuscan wine.

Location: BrixtonClick here to find out more.

a plate of food with a fork


The most important advice when going to Caminata is…go hungry! Home of the ‘best pizza’ in Balham, there is a lot else to try on the menu including arancini and duck & pork sausage terrine to get your meal off to a flying start.

The pasta dishes are unique to Caminata. Try the Nero, black ink linguine with anchovies, burrata and cherry tomatoes which is new to the menu.

Location: Caminata
Click here to find more.

a plate of food on a table

Cafe Murano

Two years in the making, chef Angela Hartnett has recently opened her newest Italian restaurant Cafe Murano in Bermondsey. Her philosophy for the food is all about ‘really good simple, tasty food’. And it shows.

The pumpkin tortelli pasta with sage butter and the salt cod fritters are making our mouth water just writing them down here. The light-filled setting has the ‘industrial chic’ look of the surrounding area too.

Location: Bermondsey
Click here to find out more.

food, 20 of the best italian restaurants in london for a taste of la dolce vita

Al Mare

Part of The Carlton Tower Jumeirah’s recent transformation, Al Mare might Knightsbridge-approved fancy, but it’s also Italian-approved delicious. Head Chef Marco Calenzo, formerly of Zuma, has made sure of that, with artisanal produce sourced from his favourite Italian suppliers.
Sophistication is key. Enter the raw-fish starters (or ‘crudos’), from the jaw-droppingly tasty spicy Bluefin tuna tartare and saffron arancini, to the thinly sliced yellowtail & Etna lemon dressing. You’ll want to devour every single starter, but make room for mains as their pasta dishes are worthy of applause, from black truffle rigatoni to ravioli ‘Del Plin’ stuffed with Guinea fowl and parmesan cheese. The lobster risotto might just be the most flavoursome risotto you’ve ever come across…
Let the waiter match your cocktail to your meal and watch as they make their specials in front of you. The drinks trolley they use is so enviable, you’ll be Googling lookalikes on the way home.

Location: KnightsbridgeClick here to find out more.

a group of people performing on a counter

Ciao bella

Probably the most iconic Italian restaurant in London, Ciao Bella on Lambs Conduit Street has become one of the most loved eateries in town. Delicious pizza, good red wine and lots of buzz are all guaranteed. As are the olives, big hunks parmesan and breadsticks you get as you sit down.

Opened in 1983, when Bloomsbury was where the fashionable set hung out, the walls are covered in black and white pictures and film stills, so you feel like your Napoletana comes with Sophia Loren’s approval. According to one ELLE editor it’s impossible to go there and not get through three bottles of wine!

Location: Holborn
Click here to find out more.

ice cream in a desert


The queues are nearly as legendary as the pasta at London Bridge’s Padella – and for good reason! Padella has become synonymous with the best fresh pasta in London.

Try the gnocchi with nutmeg butter and the tagliarini with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon. And then go back a second time to work your way through the menu.

The good news is that they’re opening another (bigger) site in Shoreditch in mid-February. Watch. This (pasta-filled). Space.

Location: London Bridge
Click here to find out more.

a plate of food

Locanda Locatelli

For something a bit special, Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli is one of the best Italian restaurants in London. Run by Giorgio Locatelli and his wife Plaxy, there’s a family feel in a very elegant setting, in the Hyatt Regency hotel just off Portman Square.

Giorgio has been cooking in professional kitchens since the age of five so you know you’re in good hands even before you’ve tasted the lobster linguine.

Location: Marylebone
Click here to find out more.

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