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World-Famous Institution The River Cafe Drops a New Restaurant Out of Nowhere

Sylvia’s will open next door to the original Italian shrine on the River Thames

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Squid with chilli and lemon at The River Cafe, one of London’s best waterside Italian restaurants Ola Smit/Eater London

London’s most famous Italian restaurant, the River Cafe, will open a new sister site called Sylvia’s, which will serve a set menu at dinner time only by the side of the River Thames this month.

Bloomberg’s Richard Vines posted on Twitter yesterday evening that the River Cafe’s co-founder Ruth Rogers confirmed a Telegraph story, which stated the chef would be “trialling a new riverside restaurant next door [to the River Cafe], in the former meeting rooms of her husband Richard’s architectural practice.”

The Telegraph quotes Rogers as saying: “This is the way a lot of Italians like to eat and it’s certainly the way that I like to eat, which is to have great risottos, pastas and a real emphasis on vegetables — roasted pumpkin, baked ricotta with herbs and artichokes — plus River Café desserts.”

Vines said that main courses in a set menu — which follows the typical Italian format of antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci — will be comprised of vegetables only, in part to keep the total cost under £60.

Founded by Rogers and the late Rose Gray, the River Cafe is indisputably one of the country’s best Italian restaurants and has been one of the most influential culinary institutions of the last three decades. Resultantly, its dishes come at a price: Starters can often clear the £20 mark, while mains hitting £40 is not braggadocious, it’s become the standard — the price of fine ingredients and a reputation.

The only other detail currently known about Sylvia’s is that its service will be conducted to the soundtrack of live piano music. And the wine list will be shared with the parent site next door.

More soon.