Ten of the best Italian restaurants in London

These are the capital’s top spots for perfect pizza, pasta and other Italian classics

1. Piazza Italiana

Piazza Italiana

38 Threadneedle St, EC2R 8AY

Housed in the former home of the British Linen Bank – a magnificent, grade-II listed building – is this chic Italian restaurant and bar. The menu reads like a roll call of the Italian classics: arancini served with a fantastically creamy arrabbiata sauce, a burrata and oxheart tomato salad, beef carpaccio and a slow-cooked veal “tonnato” all feature on the list of antipasti, while traditional seafood, meat, risotto and pasta dishes are available as mains.

This is a risk-free restaurant, with every dish guaranteed to transport your tastebuds with its authentic Italian flavours and high-quality, seasonal ingredients. But there is one option which stands head, shoulders and belly above the rest: Piazza Italian’s signature tagliolini al tartufo. This is a decadently dairy-heavy (and Instagram-worthy) dish that’s assembled at the table by a member of staff who swirls the ribbon-like pasta in a pecorino wheel before grating fresh black truffle over it as a final garnish.

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The dessert list – if you have room – is exactly what you’d expect at a high-end Italian, with cream, coffee and chocolate all making repeat appearances. The lengthy cocktail menu features all the classics as well as “signatures” and “specials” (the latter is only available between 6-11pm). For savoury-toothed cocktail lovers, “The Pearl” – made from oyster and seaweed Piazza Italiana gin, elderflower liquor with “sea wave foam” and sugar pearls – is a multisensory feast. It will set you back £20, but with its ocean scent and turquoise hue, this cocktail is one to savour with small sips throughout your meal.


2. Manteca

Pasta at Manteca

49-51 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3PT

Manteca, a nose-to-tail Italian which swung open its east London doors in November 2021, is “an absolute belter” of a restaurant, “with considerable promise for the future”, writes Neil Davey for TheWeek.co.uk. At the UK’s 11th best restaurant, at least according to the National Restaurant Awards, there’s an ethos towards sharing, which makes the cooking here “a great spectator sport”.

The “signature” dish – if Instagram-coverage is an indicator of such things – is probably the “pig skin ragu with parmesan and crispy skin” – a little bowl of rich, fatty, crispy, porky genius and indicative of Manteca’s grasp of the rule that fat tastes good. The “mere name” of this dish “is an outrageous act of lusty flirtation”, agrees The Guardian’s Jay Rayner. In fact “every dish, every snack and small plate, every bowl of pasta, side and sharing platter, arrives with a tap dance… and it’s bloody marvellous.”

Read our full review here


3. Morso

Morso food from above

43 Chamberlayne Rd, NW10 3NB

With its name meaning “small bites” (think: morsels), Morso provides a twist on traditional Italian recipes, with sharing at the heart of its concept. The menu is split into five sections: veg, meat and fish “bites”, fresh pasta and dessert. For a table of two, a recommended order would be three bites to share, two hand-made pasta dishes and one or two desserts – but the varied, flavourful and utterly unpretentious menu makes it tough to narrow down your options.

A must-order is the £10 “burrata-tomata-starter”, which is “tooth-tingly sweet and lip-suckingly tart in equal measure”, writes Kate Samuelson for TheWeek.co.uk. “I wasn’t surprised to learn from our waitress that they’d been imported from Italy.” The unassuming setting and informal atmosphere contribute to the charm of this laid-back Kensal Rise restaurant.

Read our full review here


4. Lina Stores

Lina Stores

Various locations

The pasta at this long-standing Italian delicatessen is so legendary that over the past few years it has opened several restaurant branches across the city. The institution continues to serve up fine Italian fare to in-the-know Londoners from the original central Soho location, as well as from Bloomsbury, Marylebone and King’s Cross.

Lena Stores has been making fresh pasta on site, specialising in stuffed varieties, since it opened in 1944, with the recipes passed down from generation to generation. And it’s pretty good value too: at its Marylebone Village restaurant, “exemplary pasta dishes are served beautifully, and hover within the reasonable £7-14 price bracket”, writes Time Out’s Stephen Emms.


5. Officina 00

Officina 00 Old Street, London

156 Old St, EC1V 9BW

The main event at Officina 00 is most definitely the pasta, which is made at an onsite workshop every day, with eight dishes on offer, which rotate with the seasons. This is “a delightfully cheerful, confident Italian restaurant”, writes Felicity Capon for TheWeek.co.uk, with “exceptional” dishes including occhi with beef brisket genovese, sour parsley pesto, and aged Provolone, agnolotti with peas, crispy bacon, mint, and pappardelle with pork ragu meatballs and burrata – the latter being “the pièce de résistance”.

The Sunday Times’s Marina O’Loughlin has similarly high praise. Officina 00 might not be the most authentic of Italians but since “both owners are from Naples and their short menu is packed with delicious discoveries, I reckon they can do whatever they like”, she writes.

Read our full review here


6. Zia Lucia

Zia Lucia

Various locations

Zia Lucia has won a loyal London following since opening its doors in Islington back in June 2016 and now features branches in Aldgate East, Balham, Hammersmith, Stoke Newington, Wandsworth and Wembley, with Canary Wharf opening this summer. Diners can choose from four types of doughs: wholemeal, gluten-free, traditional, and the exciting-sounding vegetable charcoal, with an “evocative flavour, dramatic look, digestive gas-absorbing capacities”.

It isn’t only the amazing food but also the warm, family atmosphere that keeps diners coming back for more. Zia Lucia translates as “Auntie Lucia”, a tribute to D’Angelo’s aunt, who inspired and is an investor in the restaurant. She even acts as the logo, with a simple drawing of her face decorating menus, the Zia Lucia website, and the exteriors of both branches.

Read our full review here


7. Enoteca Rosso

Enoteca Rosso

276-280 Kensington High St, W8 6ND

British diners are probably more familiar with the food of southern Italy, tomato-rich and steeped in olive oil, than with the elegant cuisine of the north and its emphasis on meat and dairy. Enoteco Rosso, on Kensington High Street, seeks to put that right with a northern-tinged menu that encourages exploration. Most of the dishes come in three sizes, allowing the curious to range freely through a selection of small plates.

The menu changes frequently, incorporating whatever is in season, but the guiding principle shines through: classic dishes precisely cooked and smartly presented. Lamb ragout with saffron tagliatelle is a case in point, the golden nest of pasta topped with an earthy meat stew. The cheese and charcuterie board are hard to resist, too – and a pile of parma ham, pistachio-studded mortadella and creamy burrata is just the excuse you need for a tour through the wine list. Extensive (and all Italian), it includes plenty of good options by the glass.


8. Bocca di Lupo

Bocca di Lupo

Various locations

With ingredients flown into the country twice a week every week, Bocca di Lupo “might just be Britain’s best Italian”, declared Terry Durack in The Independent in 2009. It was named best restaurant in London by Time Out the same year and later won Best Wine List in Tatler’s 2013 restaurant awards.

While it claims to be regional, it should perhaps more accurately be described as multi-regional with dishes picked out from across the length and breadth of Italy, and each dish’s origin clearly marked on the menu. In The Times, Giles Coren describes Bocca di Lupo in Soho as a “place of homage to the great regional cooking of Italy”. One of the “great dishes” of 2021, he says, was “a plate of dense, chewy paccheri with meaty shards of gurnard and a sauce of tomato and chilli – a dish native to Sperlonga, coastal home of the Emperor Tiberius – that was rich with sweet oils and, crucially, the plump, floral, quasi-mammalian aroma and mouthfeel of decidedly non-Martian tomatoes”.


9. Vasco & Piero

Vasco & Piero

11 D’Arblay St, W1F 8DT

It’s not new – in fact, it’s over 50-years-old – but this Umbrian restaurant is “hardworking, resilient, quietly creative and loved by its customers”, says Tim Hayward at the Financial Times. It is a “pure, old school Soho Italian”.

Its regional focus is “a position they adopted long before lesser osterie clocked that concentrating on a specific region was a good wheeze. It wasn’t whisked up in a boardroom, it just is”, wrote Marina O’Loughlin in The Guardian in 2017. That means vast bowls of fresh pasta, made in-house every day; meat and fish that are never frozen; and truffles in the season.

“Much of the produce here is sourced direct from small Umbrian farms,” adds Time Out, and the menu changes twice daily. After all, continues the magazine, if Vasco & Piero have been doing this for so long, they must be doing something right.


10. Padella


6 Southwark St, SE1 1TQ

Ever since opening in 2016, Padella in Borough Market has had a seemingly never-ending stream of customers willing to wait hours for a table - and it’s not hard to understand why. As an offshoot of Islington institution, Trullo, Padella has links with one of London’s most consistently “excellent neighbourhood” Italian restaurants, wrote Grace Dent in the London Evening Standard when it opened.

While head chef Tim Siadatan’s original is all “linen tablecloths, old-school chic and plenty of choice”, Padella’s is “a sparse white space serving a pared-down single-sheet menu”. The effect of this no-faff, no-fuss approach means Padella retains its sleek simplicity and offers that surprisingly rarest of eating options, a “fine little find for proper but casual sustenance, bang in the heart of tourist London”.


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