Angela Hartnett, the owner of Michelin-starred Murano in Mayfair and two branches of Cafe Murano — in St James’s and Covent Garden — is planning to open a third of those more casual sites on the site of the much-missed Italian restaurant Zucca at 184 Bermondsey Street in south east London.
Propel Hospitality reports that Hartnett “applied to open at a site in Bermondsey Street formerly occupied by restaurant Zucca.” Planning documents for the site at 184 Bermondsey Street confirm the intention to open a branch of Cafe Murano, with Southwark Council having thus far refused plans for a new awning and frontage on the grounds of “a loss of a visual amenity to the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area.” Expect this to be resolved in due course.
Zucca was run by one of the River Cafe’s many esteemed alumni, Sam Harris — and was a restaurant which began a conversation about where in London to find River Cafe food at not-River Cafe prices; it opened in 2011, a year after Trullo, in Islington, whose front-of-house co-owner Jordan Frieda had also worked at Ruth Rogers’ and Rose Gray’s seminal Italian in Hammersmith.
Zucca was unusually affordable for an Italian restaurant that privileged such high quality ingredients, and was revered for its fresh pasta and large collections of Super Tuscan wines. Prices were kept low in part because Harris, whose father was the landlord of the property, was unconstrained by the rental hamstrings that most operators have to navigate.
Zucca closed in 2015, following Harris’ decision to leave the U.K. — a restaurant closure still mourned by its cult-like legion of followers.
Hartnett first opened Café Murano in 2013 on St James’s Street, a spin-off of her flagship Michelin-starred Murano off Curzon Street in Mayfair. She followed it up with a second site on Tavistock Street in Covent Garden in 2015. A conservative rollout — and commitment to quality and comparative affordability — has earned the brand a level of respect in the industry usually reserved for Dishoom in the same sector. Indeed, Cafe Murano is considered one of the best places to eat Italian food in the city.