The Best Italian Restaurants in London
  • HOME

The Best Italian Restaurants in London

From cosy neighbourhood hideaways to grand and glamorous hotspots, these are the best restaurants for authentic Italian food

If you’re looking for a slice of La Dolce Vita without leaving the country, check out our pick of the top spots for authentic Italian food in London. Whether you’re after homemade pasta, a hearty risotto or a classic pizza, there’s an abundance of great Italian food to be eaten in the capital. From old-school trattorias and street food markets to fine dining eateries, here are the best Italian restaurants in London. Buon appetito!

Best Italian Restaurants in London 2023

Photo 1 of
Pasta with caviar

Enoteca Turi, Pimlico

This long-standing neighbourhood Italian on Pimlico Road was helmed by Puglia-born Giuseppe Turi for over 30 years, but he recently stepped down and handed the reins over to restaurateur Dominic Ford and Liberty Wines founder David Gleave. Under its new ownership, the eatery retains its character, with understated yet sleek interiors: think gold brick walls, white tablecloths and leather banquettes perfect for intimate date nights. This elegant feel is mirrored in the menu, crafted by Abruzzo-born head chef Giampiero Giuliani (formerly at Cipriani in New York and Pastaio in London), who focuses on classic Italian dishes with little surprises, made with top-quality ingredients. Begin with sharing starters of Apulian burrata and Sicilian aubergine, and juicy scallops with saffron sauce, followed by a freshly made pasta dish: highlights include spaghettini with Oscietra caviar, and agnolotti with veal shin ravioli. Portions aren’t huge, which means there’s definitely space for dessert – our pick is the pistachio tiramisu, served with mascarpone ice cream. Wine has always been a big part of Enoteca Turi, and it remains pivotal to the menu, with over 500 varieties on offer and each dish on the menu paired with a suggested glass.

87 Pimlico Rd, London SW1W 8PH,

Daroco Soho

Daroco, Soho

Restaurant group Daroco has two very trendy restaurants in Paris’ 2nd and 16th arrondissements – and now, it has arrived in London. Daroco Soho is a new Italian restaurant from founders Alexandre Giesbert, Julien Ross and Nico de Soto. The sharing-style menu offers a selection of homemade pasta and pizza, with ingredients sourced everywhere from Calabria to Emilia-Romagna. Highlights include ‘caponakchouka’ (a cross between caponata and shakshuka), and pappardelle with red wine venison ragu. The design takes inspiration from its Parisian siblings, with a grand mirrored ceiling, marble tabletops and burnished brass fixtures.

Ilona Rose House, W1D 4AL;

Sette at the Bvlgari Hotel

Sette, Knightsbridge

One of the capital’s most glamorous Italian restaurants is Sette, the first international outpost of New York’s Scarpetta restaurant group. Housed within the ground floor of the Bvlgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, it fits in with its surroundings – think mirrored walls, pendant lighting and dark wood, offering a glitzy take on a Milan trattoria. The menu, though, is based on a simple ethos of top-quality, seasonal ingredients, with a focus on homemade pastas, meat and fish dishes. Begin your meal with some prawn carpaccio ahead of the famed ‘Scarpetta Spaghetti’, made with san marzano tomato and basil, or treat yourself to the lobster tagliolini, followed by some traditional gelato for dessert. Alternatively, you can pop in for some cicchetti at the bar – think bruschetta and crudites – or visit for brunch on weekends (with the option to add free-flowing champagne). 

This summer, don’t miss the new Ferragosto menu, a four-course dinner paired with Ferrari Trento wines. Begin with panzanella salad ahead of a Ferrari Trento and parmesan risotto, a pan roasted cod main and an almond cream and fig compote dessert. In the mood for a cocktail? Choose from one of the spritz tipples, such as the Sorrento Spritz, made with Martini vibrante, hibiscus syrup and soda. 

TRY: The seared scallops are some of the best in town.

Ground Floor, 4 Knightsbridge Grn, London SW1X 7QA;

Tozi - Italian restaurant in Victoria

TOZI, Victoria

Tozi has been around since 2013, and is a staple of London Victoria’s dining scene. And if you haven’t visited yet, this isn’t one to sleep on. Offering up Venetian-style small plates, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to a fresh take on Italian cuisine. 

You’ll be impressed from the minute you enter; high ceilings and dim lights create a hulking space, but it doesn’t feel empty, rather erring more on the side of grand. On the walls, check out old-school Italian films. It’s an ode to Italy’s culture and food without being too in your face about it. 

The menu shifts consistently and seasonally, and you can note where trendy food is being given its fair moment: raw prawns are popping up on every chef’s table right now, and this is no exception. Rest assured that this is a safe place to try this adventurous dish: it’s remarkably fresh tasting. By Tessa Dunthorne

TRY: The Pistachio tiramisu, for layers of chocolatey-nutty-caffeinated joy. Ask the experienced bar staff to whip you up a creative dessert cocktail, too; they’ll pair it perfectly with your after-dinner treat. 

8 Gillingham St, Pimlico, London SW1V 1HJ;

the facade of the hari in london

The Hari’s il Pampero, Belgravia

Stepping into The Hari’s sumptuous, subterranean Italian restaurant, il Pampero, feels like being let in on a secret. A square art deco bar steals the show, with dark top tables orbiting the bottle-stacked, gently glowing counter. Dinner tables are topped with wine glasses, bouncing with the flickering candles’ light. The wine list is delivered on an iPad, featuring a delectable selection of grown up cocktails (think Italicus and olive juice with prosecco and soda in The King’s Guard, sitting alongside a signature negroni). But the food is listed on a physical menu, championing authentic Italian cuisine in these sleek and modern surroundings. Start light: the Spada Affumicato (smoked swordfish) is light yet moreish, accompanied by taggiasche olive puree, semi dried datterino tomatoes and pickled onion. Or opt for the timeless pepper seared beef carpaccio, or a classic selection of artisanal Italian cold cuts, salami, pecorino and aged parmesan for the table.

As for mains, there’s no going wrong with pasta, and il Pampero is home to some of London’s best homemade pasta accompanied by unique flavours, ranging from lamb ragu with Pecorino and mint, to spaghetti with chickpeas, octopus and tomato, to the vegan tube pasta with a ragu of aubergine, tomato and taggiasche olive. Staying on the fish theme, I opt for the delicate Branzino Al Cartoccio, seabass fillet presented in the crispy paper it was baked in and accompanied by olives, tomato, mussels and herbs; simply delicious. There’s also slow cooked pork belly, a steak, and a chicken stew to choose from, alongside a vegan Melanzana. Whatever you choose, local leads the way, with a rotating menu drawing on the best of seasonal produce, fashioned into traditional Italian dishes. By Olivia Emily

TRY: We all know there’s a separate stomach for pudding, but the Baba’ Al Rum is worth saving yourself for if you’re one of the rare few. It’s very rummy, accompanied by lovely vanilla custard and poached cherries.

20 Chesham Pl, London SW1X 8HQ;

Branzino dish at Sparrow

Sparrow Italia, Mayfair

Almost hidden in Avery Row is an exciting new restaurant opening that foodies will want to add to their bucket lists immediately: the new Sparrow, the restaurant concept imported after a highly successful launch in Los Angeles. Offering up modern coastal Italian cuisine, this goal is to whizz you across to the Mediterranean through the foods on offer. Does it achieve this? Certainly – although not without adding a real sense of LA about it, too. Expect exciting live music while being served up moreish homemade pasta and fresh seafood. By Tessa Dunthorne

TRY: The wagyu tomahawk steak, topped with half of an oozing roasted garlic to be squeezed on top of this brilliantly succulent cut of meat. Or the crispy branzino (pictured).

1-3 Avery Row, London W1K 4AJ;

Read our full review here.

spread of drinks and plates at italian restaurant cin cin

Cin Cin, Fitzrovia

Sitting on a corner of a bustling street in Fitzrovia you’ll find Cin Cin, a modern Italian neighbourhood restaurant, which promises a slice of calm – and delicious food – away from the hustle and bustle of central London. Just a short walk from the prime surrounding shopping district, and theatreland of Soho – it makes for a perfect spot to grab a pre-theatre dinner, a much-needed post-shopping beverage, or a dreamy way to wile away a summer evening, beginning with an aperitif, before slowly working your way through the menu. The menus, which change seasonally, offer an array of delicious Italian dishes made with fresh and well-sourced ingredients. The food feels authentic – with some being family recipes – and you can tell each dish is carefully considered before it’s put on the menu. Ultimately though, it’s a seriously lovely way to spend an evening watching the world go by as you sip on delicious aperitifs and munch on delicious food. 

TRY: The crispy polenta, caponata and coppa – the combination of flavours and textures turns this simple dish into a winning starter.

21 Foley St, London W1W 6DS;

dishes in the middle of the table

Norma, Fitzrovia

You can’t beat pasta in the sunshine. Norma is a delightful Sicilian restaurant set across three floors on the bustling Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia, with a terrace stretching across the pavement for the summer. The expansive seasonal a la carte menu is packed with impeccable dishes bursting with flavour and yet presented in exciting, often delicate ways with a touch of rustic charm (you’ll want your camera at the ready).

Influenced by Sicily’s Moorish history in particular and embodying old-school, friendly hospitality, the delicious food is only improved by the charming waitstaff. Don’t know what to choose from the ever-changing seasonal menu? Ask – they know exactly what will make you happy. By Olivia Emily

TRY: A bit of everything, and share it tapas style.

8 Charlotte St, London W1T 2LS;

Image credit:

Cicchetti Knightsbridge - best italian restaurants in London

Cicchetti Knightsbridge

Small plates directly opposite Harrods? Sounds idyllic. The latest opening by the San Carlo group, Cicchetti Knightsbridge offers supremely delicious regionally inspired dishes.

This already-busy restaurant is one to add to your list. Why? It nails Italian classics whilst offering creative new takes on flavours. From its tagliatelle bolognese (honouring the oldest recipe in the book for Bologna) to its mouthwatering truffle and pecorino signature ravioli, the sharing dishes will inspire conversation across the table – and will guarantee debates on who gets to finish that last bite of pizza (dribbling-with-cheese).

Pescatarians, in particular, should rejoice. Seafood is done frequently and done well across this menu. From black ravioli, stuffed to the brim with mascarpone and crab, to the tuna tartare (prepared at your table, involving you in the fun), the Italian coast and its fruits are paid homage.

Finally, we can’t fail to mention the interiors. Sit amidst decadent Art Deco features and feel as though you’re occupying a Venetian palace – and admire a striking mural painted by artist Jessalyn Brooks. By Tessa Dunthorne

TRY: The bruschetta. Cicchetti’s take on the Italian classic showcases the best of Sicilian tomatoes and is oh-so-fresh.

6 Hans Rd, London SW3 1RX;

theo randall, Tartare di tonno

Theo Randall at the InterContinental, Mayfair

Feeling refined? You will after dining at Theo Randall’s chic restaurant at the InterContinental, No. 1 Park Lane – his prestigious address since November 2006. Inside, it’s all natural woods and neutral colour palettes, but don’t let the understated interiors deter you – the food is rich, complex and colourful.

The menu is extensive, boasting a range of delicious dishes and the TV regular’s undeniable experience. Share a few Antipasti dishes to start – Burrata is always a winner, but don’t miss the delectable Tartare di Tonno with salty capers and sharp Amalfi lemon. The pasta is al dente and delicious; you’ll want to savour every bite.

The wine list is equally long; make sure you track down friendly and chatty Head Sommelier Fernando Cubas (who also designs the wine lists at the InterContinetal’s Park Lane pop-ups) for help with decoding and tracking down the perfect sip. By Olivia Emily

TRY: Ravioli di erbette – a mixed green ravioli with swiss chard, rocket and cime di rapa, ricotta, butter and sage. A veggie dish has never tasted so rich and fulfilling.

InterContinental, 1 Hamilton Pl, London W1J 7QY;

Interior of Italian restaurant Como Garden, showing the bar and the leafe-covered walls and ceiling, with warm hanging lights overhead

Como Garden, Kensington

A safe haven nestled in the chaos of Kensington High Street, Como Garden promises (and delivers) delicious cuisine that will transport its guests to the shores of the Italian lakes. Decked from head-to-toe is biophilic accents, classical sculptures and warm, low-hanging lamps, the restaurant is designed for seclusion – you’ll forget the noise of the city, especially with a glass of Aperol Spritz in hand.

Dinner is a sharing affair, with the tapas style menu offering small and medium sized bites. It’s recommended to order three or four plates per person, but you’ll more than likely want to try them all. Start things right with some fresh homemade bread (served with oil and vinegar, of course), and then make your way through the antipasti – think crispy arancini and fresh bruschetta.

For the main event, choose from a range of pasta dishes, salads, meats and fish. Classic dishes like lasagne and gnocchi are up for grabs, as well as elevated dishes like the pumpkin and sage tortelloni with pine nuts, which are destined to become fast favourites for those who try them.

End things on a sweet note (if you have room) and tuck into a selection of treats, from tiramisu layered with rich coffee and a warming almond tart to scoops of authentic Italian gelato – just ask the staff which flavours are available. A truly delicious night awaits at Como Garden. By Charlie Colville

TRY: The truffle and parmesan tagliolini and the arancini (make sure to get two plates if you don’t want to share).

37-45 Kensington High St, London W8 5ED;

Il Borro

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, Mayfair

Taking over the former site of Nobu on Berkeley Street is a new Italian restaurant from the Ferragamo family, Il Borro. It’s the third culinary opening for the restaurant group, with two other branches already launched in Tuscany and Dubai. Spread across two floors with glamorous décor from design firm Studio 64, Il Borro certainly fits in with its postcode – yet it’s a friendly, welcoming spot, built on a farm-to-table ethos. Traditional Italian dishes are the focus, made using fresh ingredients sourced directly from the family’s organic farm alongside a wide selection of wine and cocktails. Menu highlights include a vegan take on aubergine parmigiana, four cheese gnocchi, and grilled Wagyu sirloin – plus a show-stopping cheesecake.

TRY: The pumpkin and black truffle tortelli is heavenly.

15 Berkeley St, London W1J 8DY;

Bardo St James

Bardo St. James’s

Delicious food accompanied by costumes and crooners – what more could you want? Bardo St. James is a velvet-clad, mood-lit, subterranean restaurant which opened in the theatre district in October 2021. It’s an ideal occasion destination because, making the most of its location, Bardo serves theatricality alongside traditional Italian cuisine. They encourage you to dress to theme – la dolce vita, of course – and, with live music, a buzzy dining room, sumptuous sofa booths, and a glass of crisp wine in hand, the Italian Golden Age feels within reach.

Start with a well-balanced cocktail – notably strong yet smooth – before tucking into moreish bread with oil and balsamic (you can’t go wrong). But try not to spoil your appetite: you’ll want to try a bit of everything. The Antipasti are refined (with plenty of delicate fish and seafood on offer), and the pasta bowls generous, indulgent and ideal for sharing to leave space for the main course. From Breaded Veal to Roasted Aubergine, there’s something delicious for everyone. Ask your waiter for their recommendations if you’re struggling to choose – though they’ll most likely have multiple favourites, too. By Olivia Emily

TRY: The Seabass – delectably delicate with earthy but sweet violet artichoke. Divine. And finish with a refreshing Strawberry Salad to cut through the food coma.

4 Suffolk Pl, London SW1Y 4HX;

Angelina, Dalston

Angelina, Dalston

Venture north east (and out of zone 1!) for Angelina, an exciting Italian-Japanese fusion fine-dining restaurant that opened in Dalston in early 2019 under childhood friends Joshua Owens-Baigler (Bocca di Lupo, River Café) and Amar Takhar (JKS Group). An elegant and warm dining room on Dalston Lane, Angelina spills into the street with a covered outdoor terrace, serving up exciting tasting menus: four course omakase (‘I’ll leave it up to you’ in Japanese; £39); 10 course kasikei, drawing on Japanese fine dining.

Though it is a set menu, and though the wine list is astronomically long, Angelina is unfussy and friendly – simply sit back and watch the magic happen (that is, the food brought to your table, without having to worry about what to choose). The waitstaff are also well-equipped to navigate the wine list for you, should you find it overwhelming: upgrade your set menu with a wine pairing, or tell the waitstaff what wines you like, and they’ll happily do the heavy lifting for you.

The food is exciting and indulgent, uniting Italian and Japanese cuisine adeptly, unexpectedly and, of course, deliciously. The appetisers are moorish, the pasta al dente and divine, and the flavour combinations unexpected but unwaveringly tasty. By Olivia Emily

TRY: The menu changes every month, so surrender to Owens-Baigler, Amar Takhar, and their always bustling restaurant – it’s a treat worth the trek.

56 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AH;

Image courtesy of Anton Rodriguez

Cacio e Pepe Il Pampero Parmesan Wheel

Il Pampero, Belgravia

Hidden below street level in the swishy Hari Hotel, stepping into Il Pampero feels like stepping back into to a bygone era of Italian glamour, all white tablecloths, deep green furnishings, low lighting and charming Italian waiters. It’s elegant without being ostentatious, and the leather-clad window booths add an important touch of cosiness (perfect for a date). The glamorous central bar is irresistible for a classic Italian aperitivo (beware the deliciously strong Negroni) before sitting down to a feast of antipasti that include beef carpaccio with generous shavings of black truffle and surprisingly moreish fried scamorza (smoked cheese) bites served on a bed of radicchio with balsamic vinegar.

With pasta made fresh on-site, it’s impossible to resist in its various incarnations on the menu. The highlight is undoubtedly the tonnarelli cacio e pepe dish, prepared in a parmesan wheel that’s rolled out to your table on a trolley for extra panache. You’ll find some more unusual pasta dishes on the menu too which are well worth a gander – but keep a bit of space for the veal Milanese, so large that it practically bursts out of the plate, giving Cecconi’s a real run for their money. A very special restaurant – it gets five stars from us.

TRY: Whatever the maître d’ recommends – he really does know best.

20 Chesham Place, London SW1;

an array of plates of food from Pasta e Pizza in Eataly

Eataly, Broadgate

Eataly is quickly becoming a London institution – mostly because of the impeccable food, delicious cocktails and wonderful service, but also because of its giant, lit-up building just outside Liverpool Street station. Wonders are housed inside (and outside): the Pasta e Pizza bar, wood-burning grill bar Terra, an al fresco terrace, Central Bar for drinks, as well as an Italian market style shop (for all of the Italian goodies you wish you had at home), the Gran Caffè Bar, and countless fresh food counters. Spend a whole evening there, starting with cocktails, indulging in delicious pasta (perhaps even one of the sharing bowls), before ending at the dessert counter. Bellissimo! By Olivia Emily

TRY: For cocktails, try whatever is seasonal (it’s always good), or the Christopher Columbus is a reliably delicious take on the espresso martini for after dinner.

135 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3YD;

14 of the Best Italian Restaurants in London

Al Dente, Fitzrovia

Though understated inside and out, the food here is as rich as you’d imagine it would be in any little eatery on any gloriously old cobbled street in Italy. A stone’s throw from Goodge Street Station, Al Dente is a warm and authentic Italian restaurant which might easily be missed due to the sheer amount of commotion on the street it sits on – but it shouldn’t be. Sit by the window overlooking the hubbub or by the contemporary black metal communal table in the centre, where cutlery and napkins are pulled out from the draws below – a nice, quirky touch. Begin with the bruschetta: perfectly fresh cherry tomatoes chopped onto crispy bread, alongside a basket of homemade olive focaccia and olive oil. For the main event, choose your pasta carefully: the portions are large and each dish offers a different taste of Italy. We recommend the seafood linguine, featuring thick fresh pasta accompanied by clams, mussels, prawns and more. Save some space for pudding, because the cannoli is a must-try. By Kerri Stolerman

TRY: The Green Tortelli: oodles of cream, lashings of authentic parmesan, and the smell of truffle oil wafting up into your nose makes this dish a feast for all the senses.

51 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia W1T 1TG;

Padella London Bridge

Padella, London Bridge & Shoreditch

No Italian restaurant list would be complete without the legendary Padella, know for its standout homemade pasta dishes, tiny prices and gigantic queues. The menu features a handful of simple antipasti and ten pasta dishes, with everything from the simple-but-perfect tagliarini with slow-cooked tomato sauce to a more experimental chicken liver, sage and marsala pappardelle dish. The ingredients, flavours and flair are undoubtedly Italian, but with a smattering of the best of British (it is around the corner from Borough Market, after all) – Cobble Lane Cured ‘nduja and salami are made in London, and ravioli are stuffed with Neal’s Yard ricotta.

But the big question is this: is it really worth the three-hour wait? The answer is a resounding yes. Since opening, Padella has never been queue-less, and the wait only adds to the excitement and anticipation of it all. It’s become a ritual, even. Arrive early, leave your phone number and go exploring for a couple of hours – it’s the perfect excuse for a leisurely stroll around the area (local pub crawl, anyone?) before sitting down to a well-deserved plate or three of steaming hot, delicious pasta.

TRY: The summer version of Padella’s famous Cacio e Pepe – the fabulous Pici with Marjoram, Golden Garlic and Lemon.

6 Southwark St, London SE1 & 1 Phipp St, London EC2A 4PS;

Popolo Shoreditch

Popolo, Shoreditch

Though not traditional, Popolo is undoubtedly one of the most exciting Italian restaurants to come to London. Drawing inspiration from Middle Eastern and Moorish cuisine, Jon Lawson has created an array of fusion dishes which even the most die-hard Italian would be proud of. Following the trend for small ‘sharing plates’, the restaurant is best experienced sitting at the counter looking into the open kitchen and ordering just about everything from the menu – this is not an exaggeration, practically everything is a ‘hero dish’.

Pasta is hand rolled for every service, ingredients are fresh and packed with flavour, and the natural wines come from small producers. So far, so Italian. But then the grilled octopus comes on a bed of smoky baba ghanoush, the fried olives are served with chickpeas and labne, and there’s a beautiful aubergine tempura with tahini, pistachio and pomegranate. The pasta dishes are more classic but no less stunning. This is the kind of food that will stay on your mind long after you’ve left…

TRY: The pork cheek agnolotti in silky porcini butter.

26 Rivington Street, London EC2;

Bocca Di Lupo Tajarin with raw duck egg and parmesan

Bocca di Lupo, Soho

What do you get when you combine the honest and delicious food of an Italian trattoria with the fizzy, sophisticated atmosphere of the London restaurant scene? Something rather close to perfection – AKA, Soho’s Bocca di Lupo. Whether nibbling on small plates at the bar (highly recommended) or seated at the chef’s table, an evening at Bocca is always fun, just as eating out in town should be. Having won numerous accolades since opening in 2008, it remains one of the best restaurants for Italian dining in London with its ever-changing menu that brings you the best of Italy’s highly distinctive regional specialities.

Take a culinary trip around the country in one sitting with Roman fried olives, mozzarella and sage leaves, before heading north for your pasta (the Ligurian spaghetti with clams, chilli, garlic and parsley are a classic) and then right down to Puglia for a mixed meat grill. With everything available as a small or a large plate, you can sample it all – perfect for the proper foodies among you. Finish it off with an espresso before heading out into the night.

TRY: The divine chilled raw tomato soup with burrata – beats Gazpacho any day.

12 Archer Street, London W1; boccadilupocom

Macellaio Steak

Macellaio RC, South Kensington

One for the meat lovers. Macellaio means ‘butcher’ in Italian, and that’s exactly what the South Kensington restaurant looks like upon entry. Focusing on the quality of their ingredients (as all good Italians do), the food at Macellaio is simple, but hits the spot every time. Do it Italian family lunch-style by ordering a ‘tagliere’ (wooden board) of mixed Italian charcuterie and cheeses for the table, and a great big Fiorentina steak and some salads for all to share, all washed down with lots of red wine. The tagliatelle al ragù are the best we’ve had this side of Bologna – best to get one each.

TRY: An interesting variety of offals, including testicles, if you dare.

84 Old Brompton Road, London SW7;


Daphne’s, Chelsea

Classic upmarket spot Daphne’s is a Chelsea institution, serving up seasonal Italian dishes with flair. The menu balances staunchly Italian recipes with ingredients befitting the postcode, especially come autumn with tagliatelle, risotto and veal covered in shavings of the finest white truffle. The veal and wild boar ragus are hearty, decadent and authentic, while lighter ‘fashionable’ dishes such as yellowtail sashimi with yuzu and tuna avocado tartare exhibit the excellence of ingredients used. Don’t miss the veal cutlet Milanese, accompanied by a stack of skinny deep-fried zucchini chips. This is the perfect place to try something a little different such as Sicilian-inspired chargrilled swordfish with caponata, or the calves liver with smoked pancetta and cipolline – at Daphne’s you can’t go wrong. The icing on the cake? The restaurant is spearheaded by Gabriele Esposito, one of the most charming and welcoming GMs on the London restaurant scene.

TRY: The scallops are huge, juicy and an absolute a must.

112 Draycott Avenue, London SW3;

Lina Stores Restaurant & Deli, Soho

Lina Stores Restaurant & Deli, Soho

Our first piece of advice about Lina Stores is to book ahead. Before walking inside we overheard the manager explain to two hopeful diners they’d have to wait 45 minutes for seats (and hearing them eagerly accept), giving the impression this was going to be a dining experience worth waiting for (which turned out to be true). The restaurant is split in two, the downstairs a dimly lit space where friends come together to share pasta plates and couples come to indulge before waddling home from the heart of Soho. The upper level is packed without being uncomfortable, cosy and intimate. If you’re lucky nab the best seat in the house: on the bar right in front of the chefs.

Lina Stores offers the perfect blend of Italian and English luxury, not overdone or pretentious – the warmth of the manager makes you feel part of the family rather than just an in-and-out diner. The menu works best for sharing dishes, with two antipastis and two or three mains recommended. Start with the Aubergine Polpette & San Marzano Tomato dish, essentially a meatball stuffed with sliced aubergine instead of meat. Also the Stracciatella, Ferrandina Baked Olives, Caperberries & Crostini mopped up with a few slices of bread (listen to the waiters when they tell you to ‘never say to no bread at an Italian restaurant’). For mains, be sure to order the Double Ravioli, Minted Courgette & Parmesan Cream. The whole meal, paired with a few glasses of Italian rosé, is a taste sensation. Visit once, and you’ll be hooked.

The Lina Stores Delicatessen on Brewer Street – where the fresh pasta served in the restaurant is created – is also well worth a visit. What began as a deli for the local Italians soon grew to be known by all the pasta-lovers of London, selling authentic Italian pasta, meats, cheeses, chutneys and our favourite: White Truffle Honey.

TRY: The Agnolotti Verdi, Black Truffle & Ricotta: the restaurant’s most famous and sought-after dish. Prior to trying, the manager explained we’d be dreaming about it long after the visit. It’s the day after, and we can confirm this theory.

Lina Stores Restaurant: 51 Greek St Soho, London W1D 4EH and Lina Stores Deli: 18 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SH;

Anima e Cuore

Anima e Cuore, Camden Town

One of the greatest pleasures of visiting Italy is discovering one of those tiny, unassuming eateries hidden away in the backstreets that makes the most wonderful food. Anima e Cuore is one such discovery – but in Camden Town. Since being ‘discovered’ by Time Out a few years ago, the 22-cover restaurant has become wildly popular, an issue made worse by the lack of a website and an unpredictable phoneline. Yet this only adds to its authenticity, and makes finally sitting down for your meal that much sweeter. Innovative starters such as tuna tartare with cucumber sorbet are served alongside classic pasta dishes like truffle taglierini and classic Bolognese ragu – all presented beautifully by waiters whose passion is palpable as they explain each dish. BYOB, and no corkage! Our resident Italian’s top pick.

TRY: Whichever ravioli they’re making fresh that day, and their homemade ice cream for dessert.

129 Kentish Town Road, London NW1. Call 020 7267 2410 to book (no website).

Oval Restaurant Wellesley Knightsbridge

Oval Restaurant at The Wellesley, Knightsbridge

The uber elegant restaurant at The Wellesley is a great place for a special occasion supper, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings when you can enjoy exquisite Italian food accompanied by the smooth sounds of live jazz. Is there a better combination? Each dish is beautifully constructed with the finest ingredients. Of particular note are the tartare starters – both the smoked tuna tartare with crispy duck egg yolk and avocado puree, and the beef with Norcia truffle are exceptional. The pasta dishes distinguish themselves thanks to the introduction of unusual ingredients such as saffron, green apple and lime to complement more traditional Italian flavours. If you can’t decide, go for the tasting menu which showcases Oval’s best. The after-supper treats served in a lacquer Cohiba box add an extra sparkle to a memorable evening.

TRY: A cigar in the legendary Cigar Room.

11 Knightsbridge, London SW1;

Radici Islington

Radici, Islington

Islington is one of the hottest areas in London right now, so it’s only fitting that it is packed with plenty of cool restaurants. One such restaurant is Radici, the newest Italian from top chef Francesco Mazzei – only this time, it’s rather more affordable. The restaurant lies across from the Almeida Theatre meaning it’s a hub for the area’s cultured crowd who chat away in the swanky but down-to-earth surroundings.

One of the few places to serve equally excellent pizza and pasta, the concise menu is a little more creative than most and heavily inspired by Southern Italy with Tropea onion and tuna, and Sicilian aubergine and ricotta pizzas which are rarely found elsewhere. With a Margherita pizza at only £8, you can afford to try a few different plates – order a few cicchetti then the burrata tortelli (heavenly) and homely taglierini with beans and pancetta. And leave space for dessert (especially the marsala tiramisu).

TRY: The zucchini fritti are some of the best in town.

30 Almeida Street, London N1;

Cecconi's Veal Milanese

Cecconi’s, Mayfair

Cecconi’s has become a London institution, attracting the glitzy crowd from far and wide all searching for a slice of old-school Italian glamour. The establishment was opened just off Savile Row in 1978 by Enzo Cecconi, the youngest-ever general manager of the renowned Cipriani in Venice, finally bringing Londoners fresh and authentic Italian food. It’s remained a magnet for celebrities and international royalty through the years, drawn by the theatrics and grandeur of the restaurant reminiscent of Cecconi’s original vision. With its plush bottle-green furnishings and beautiful central bar, nibble on some cicchetti while sipping a legendary Bellini or Negroni. The vitello tonnato is one of the best, while the Veal Milanese (pictured above) is unrivalled. For a more affordable option, go for the set lunch menu.

TRY: Fried calamari with lemon aioli that’ll take you right back to the shores of the Amalfi Coast.

5A Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London W1;

Mercante Pasta

Mercante at Sheraton Grand London, Mayfair

Head Chef at Mercante is the young and highly talented Davide D’Ignazio, who has come straight from some of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in Rome. His menu pulls together dishes from all over Italy, allowing guests to broaden their understanding of Italian food with plates such as Panzanella (a fresh salad using bread), ox tongue and Gnocchi all’ortica (nettle gnocchi) which one rarely comes across. Taking inspiration from the bustling markets of Naples, Rome and Venice, the menu changes regularly and seasonally, often showcasing unusual regional specialities and ingredients. The restaurant is comprised of a large dining room, perfect for groups of family and friends to enjoy a big, jovial meal in true Italian style without the Mayfair price tag or stuffiness.

TRY: The duck ravioli with Amarone wine reduction.

Sheraton Grand London, Piccadilly, London W1;