Eater has learnt that Anthea Stephenson, recently appointed as head chef at Russell Norman’s Venetian-inspired trattoria on Berwick Street in Soho, has left the position less than two months after taking charge.
Stephenson — who moved to Polpetto from London’s most revered Italian restaurant, the River Cafe — took over as head chef in the first week of October. It is thought she left, less than seven weeks later, between the 17 and 20 November.
A spokesperson for the restaurant would only confirm that Stephenson had left. Norman, the founder and owner of the Polpo brand, under which Polpetto sits, did not return Eater’s request for comment on the reasons for Stephenson’s departure.
Stephenson, too, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Polpetto began life above the French House on Greek Street in 2010 with Florence Knight in charge. It closed two years later, before reopening on the premises, still with Knight, on Berwick Street in 2014. Although the circumstances of Stephenson’s departure aren’t known, the news comes as a surprise. Much was made of the restaurant’s third incarnation— including a launch party hosted by Norman and Stephenson at the restaurant on 6 November. It attracted significant press coverage, including a front-page news story in the Evening Standard.
On the Polpo website, a relaunch statement said: “Our little sister Polpetto is growing up. You know those little sisters who suddenly blossom in to full blown women, looking gorgeous and WOWING the world with stupidly good results? Yeah, that. Anthea Stephenson (formerly of River Cafe) is now at the helm and we could not be more excited.”
As well as working at the River Cafe with Ruth Rogers, Sian Wyn Owen, and Joe Trivelli for the past five years, Stephenson also worked at Pierre Gagnaire’s Sketch, Brett Graham’s The Ledbury and Locanda Locatelli.