Little Italy: Thinking big

Little Italy: Thinking big

London institutions do not come much better than Bar Italia. A stalwart on Soho’s Frith Street for 70 years, it was the first place in the area to make proper coffee – the Italian way – and it stayed open all night. Many a memorable evening in my past ended there. The aspiring family behind the venture did not, however, rest on its laurels and opened a restaurant next door in the 1990s. That both have remained constants amidst the ongoing reinvention of Soho is testament to their success as well as a reflection of the Polledri family’s ongoing involvement. The passion they bring to Little Italy is abundantly obvious. This is a highly professional venture with top-notch cooking but contains a strongly personal touch too.

Harry’s Bar: La dolce vita, London style

Harry’s Bar: La dolce vita, London style

Say Harry’s Bar to most foodies or well-travelled tourists and the immediate response would be ‘Venice.’ Such is its fame that the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs declared the Venetian venue a national landmark in 2001. Part of going to Venice is saying you’ve been there, but now you don’t even need to. For a pleasingly authentic experience with significantly fewer tourists and a much more reasonably priced menu, central London now has an outpost of Harry’s.

Ristorante Frescobaldi: In it for the long-run

The Frescobaldi’s have a long and glorious history, stretching back over 700 years. Throughout wars, changes in government and more, the family has continued to thrive, growing food and making wine in Tuscany. Their first restaurant offering opened in London in 2014. That it has survived 4 years is an achievement…

The Red Pepper: The past is a foreign country…

The Red Pepper: The past is a foreign country…

L P Hartley’s famous line seems an appropriate way in which to describe The Red Pepper. Time does funny things to one’s memory and, of course, we all grow up, but put simply, a recent visit to this restaurant showed demonstrably that in the past, “they do [did] things differently.” We left feeling underwhelmed …

C London: Opinion unrevised

Four years may have passed since my last visit to C London, but it seems little has changed: here, we are definitively in the world of moneyed Mayfair where the well-heeled and wannabee celebrities still come to dine. The food is excellent; the service somewhat less so. For mere mortals, prices remain eye-watering and undoubtedly better value (and experiences) can be found elsewhere

Cecconi: Timeless (March 2017)

Like the cliché about buses, it had been nine months since I had last visited Cecconi and yet coincidence led to me making two visits within 72 hours. Both a lunch and a breakfast visit here confirmed to me why Cecconi remains one of the best restaurants in London: its coolness is effortless and so visiting here is always enjoyable; regardless of what else may be on-trend in London, Cecconi remains timeless.

Locanda Locatelli: Still on top form (February 2017)

In the debate about what may be the best formal Italian restaurant in London, I have consistently made the case for Locanda Locatelli. It was therefore highly pleasing to revisit it for the first time in three years (during which time the décor has received a minor makeover) and find that the very high standards for which Locanda is duly renowned are showing no signs of slipping. 

The Red Pepper: A Little Venice institution (November 2013)

A Little Venice institution, the Red Pepper has been delivering consistently good food in the fifteen years I have been visiting the restaurant. While there have been several changes in both management (the current team, led by the charismatic Lara, is a definite success) and décor, the basic formula has remained unaltered.

C London (October 2013)

Clearly C-London must be doing something right since the place was packed on the weekday lunchtime when I recently visited the restaurant. Maybe it’s just that people still want to be seen here, but even if C-London was in the vanguard of ‘destination restaurants’ some years ago, it seems difficult to believe that it has been able to sustain this mantle.