clock menu more-arrow no yes
A diner spears penne, in tomato and vodka sauce, on a fork.
Penne with tomato and vodka sauce at Brutto.
Michaël Protin

London’s Best Italian Restaurants

Where to go for a slice of la dolce vita in the capital

View as Map
Penne with tomato and vodka sauce at Brutto.
| Michaël Protin

Britain has come a long way from sourcing olive oil over the pharmacy counter and being wowed by Elizabeth David’s revelatory prose on Mediterranean cooking — London’s Italian restaurant scene is all the better for it. Now, it’s possible to get a taste of Rome in Old Street, take a trip to the Amalfi Coast via Clapham, or be charmed by classic Neapolitan pizza in Ealing. There’s not a checked tablecloth or oversized pepper grinder in sight: just exquisite pasta, pizza, and much more.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Santa Maria Pizzeria

Copy Link
11 Bond St
London W5 5AP, UK

It’s Neapolitan all the way at Ealing’s Santa Maria. Keep things traditional with the margherita: a slim base topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan. However, the purists also have a short vegan (mamma mia!) menu including a (soy) cream of potato pie with onions and peppers. There are also locations in Chelsea and Fitzrovia, but this is the original, and remains the sine qua non of Neapolitan pizza in London, depending on who is making the claim.

2. The River Café

Copy Link
Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith
London W6 9HA, UK

An iconic pillar of Italian dining in London, The River Café in Hammersmith is as revered today as when Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray opened its doors more than 30 years ago. The menu, as it has always done, sings to the tune of the seasons and shows off the finest ingredients. Expect risotto with winter greens, dover sole whole roasted in the hot pink wood oven or buffalo ricotta-stuffed ravioli drenched in marjoram butter. There’s always one constant: the decadent chocolate nemesis dessert.

3. Locanda Locatelli

Copy Link
8 Seymour St, Marylebone
London W1H 7JZ, UK

One for special occasions, Giorgio Locatelli’s Locanda Locatelli is just as thrilling as it was when it opened nearly 20 years ago. The convivial atmosphere in Marylebone is the result of Locatelli’s unstinting commitment to hospitality excellence, which, like his food, never rests on well-earned laurels. Brilliant dishes like freshly made pappardelle with ceps; or malfatti potato parcels with peppers, mint, and Parmesan; and roast monkfish with walnut and caper sauce and samphire keep diners happy, and coming back for more.

4. Vasco & Piero's Pavilion Italian Restaurant

Copy Link
11 D'Arblay St
London W1F 8DT, UK

This Soho stalwart has lost none of its Umbrian charm since its unceremonious removal from Poland Street. In new premises, conscientious fresh pasta still rules, with Tuscan sausages, grilled fish, and chicken Milanese taking centre stage come mains.

5. Sorella

Copy Link
148 Clapham Manor St, Clapham Town
London SW4 6BX, UK

Order a house vermouth on the rocks then dive headfirst into Sorella’s succinct menu for a taste of the Amalfi Coast in Clapham. Nibble on deep-fried Nocellara olives and perhaps some peppery pork and fennel salumi. Proving beige is best, there’s tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and truffle or the underrated squash gnocchi with chard. Charred whole plaice and crispy potatoes provide a cheering third act. Then dessert. There’s no doubt that the malted barley affogato is deserving of its fan base but the perfectly balanced plate of Casatica di Bufala, plums, honey and walnut crackers is another worthy dish. Or, just get both.

6. Bocca di Lupo

Copy Link
12 Archer St
London W1D 7BB, UK

Still possessing one of the most enchanting menus in the city, Jacob Kenedy’s Soho restaurant (and its adjacent gelato parlour, Gelupo) spans Italian regionalism with aplomb. Roman fritti; pasta in tribute to Bologna, Sardinia, and Veneto; a caffe corretto straight from Hades. 14 years after opening, it remains as bewitching as it is seminal.

7. Bar Italia

Copy Link
22 Frith St, Soho
London W1D 4RF, UK

It’s fair to say that Soho’s Bar Italia is an institution, serving espressos from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. Watch Frith Street go by from an outside table or grab a stool inside the narrow, paraphernalia-filled cafe. Cappuccinos and croissants are order of the day for breakfast, or stop by for a late-night cannolo and caffeine kick.

8. Italo

Copy Link
13 Bonnington Square
London SW8 1TE, UK

Pull up a bright red chair outside the bright blue Italo deli on the corner of a leafy street in Vauxhall. There might be vitello tonnato, cold sliced veal with a heavy slick of creamy sauce with capers, or plates nearly overflowing with golden polenta, wild mushrooms and sage. Browse the colourful shelves, packed full of Italian imports, before leaving with some pasta or exemplary canned tomatoes.

9. Cafe Murano Covent Garden

Copy Link
36 Tavistock St
London WC2E 7PB, UK

For refined and generous dishes, look no further than Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano. The menu picks the best from Italy’s northern regions: tortelli stuffed with pumpkin; hearty risotto Milanese with osso bucco. Punchy flavours accent simply cooked meat and fish dishes, seen in tender grilled octopus with vibrant salsa verde and borlotti beans, or braised rabbit in a heady rosemary and tomato stew. There’s also a St James’ outpost of the restaurant and a Bermondsey location, too, but head for the Covent Garden spot and drop by the next-door pastificio for some homemade pasta to take home.

10. Ciao Bella

Copy Link
86-90 Lamb's Conduit St, Bloomsbury
London WC1N 3LZ, UK

Ciao Bella in Bloomsbury embodies everything there is to love about a proper, old-school Italian restaurant. Step through the door to find an organised chaos of families crowded around tables, waiters weaving around the room with plates held high. Downstairs, rows of tables are packed into the room and packets of breadsticks await diners in their place settings. Snack on generous lumps of salty parmesan and sip robust chianti while deciding between spaghetti with clams or meatballs — pasta has the perfect al dente bite here. Or, there’s simply dressed grilled dover sole, and breaded, fried veal escalope, tangy with lemon. Take an after-dinner espresso out on the Lambs Conduit Street terrace, under glowing heaters.

11. Brutto

Copy Link
35-37 Greenhill Rents
London EC1M 6BN, UK

It would be a mistake to classify Polpo founder Russell Norman’s new restaurant, on Farringdon’s Greenhill Rents, as a Tuscan nostalgia trip. Yes, bistecca alla Fiorentina is charred on the grill bars, flames licking up, before being served unadorned. Yes, chicken liver crostini; pasta e fagioli; red-and-white gingham tablecloths and Parmesan spooned from metal bowls. Yes, billowing tiramisu. Yes, plentiful Negronis; a stand-up bar where the coffee is cheaper than sitting down. But this is a London dining room that feels like it’s been around forever, not stuck in an endless Italian past.

A diner spears penne, in tomato and vodka sauce, on a fork.
A diner spears penne, in tomato and vodka sauce, on a fork.
Michaël Protin

12. Luca

Copy Link
88 St John St, Clerkenwell
London EC1M 4EH, UK

Younger sibling to The Clove Club in Shoreditch, Luca is just as understatedly elegant. This quietly glamorous Clerkenwell restaurant serves ‘Britalian’ dishes — Italian food mostly using British produce. First things first, order a portion of the crispy parmesan fries, and don’t share. Dishes move with the time of year: it’s always worth trying whichever pasta is paired with the seasonal pesto. It won’t be traditional — think pistachio and spinach or kale and chilli — but don’t fear change. Then there are dishes made for comfort: tender ox cheek with lemon polenta, Hebridean lamb with bagna cauda, or a wedge of glazed, roasted Delica pumpkin with chestnuts and buttered onions.

13. Trullo

Copy Link
300-302 St Paul's Rd, Highbury East
London N1 2LH, UK

A sleek, chic dining room in Islington sets the scene for Trullo’s unfussy Italian food. Dishes take the best of seasonal British produce and spin it into great antipasti, fantastic pastas, and secondi fresh from the charcoal grill. Skip the queues at Padella, the fresh pasta spot in Borough Market, and enjoy the signature beef shin pappardelle or pici cacio e pepe at a slower pace. There’s also ever so smoky aubergine parmigiana and hearty Black Hampshire pork chop with salsa verde on a bed of polenta. The accessible wine list is fantastic.

14. manteca

Copy Link
49-51 Curtain Rd
London EC2A 3PT, UK

Chris Leach (formerly Sager + Wilde) and Smokestak’s David Carter have moved in to Shoreditch after a long stint in Soho. To go with top antipasti, including a new pig skin ragu with pig skin double banker, there’s a carousel of pasta plates. There’s usually something stuffed, perhaps with pumpkin or mushroom, and ribbons of pappardelle tossed through ox cheek or duck ragù to go with delicate tortellini bobbing in brodo. But there’s almost always the outrageous brown crab cacio e pepe — order it or regret it.

15. Legare

Copy Link
Cardamom Bldg, 31 Shad Thames, Tower Bridge
London SE1 2YR, UK

With a Trullo alumnus behind the stove and an ex-Barrafina and Koya City general manager on the floor, recently-opened Legare has a short but sweet menu from which to pick and mix snacks, antipasti and pastas. Build a world-beating ham sandwich with gnocchi fritti and mortadella; dive into tajarin drenched in butter and sage; and eat those greens in the form of baby gem lettuce drizzled with gorgonzola, sharp pickled shallot, and crunchy pangrattato.

16. Artusi

Copy Link
161 Bellenden Rd
London SE15 4DH, UK

A bright, white room, a short simple menu and rustic Italian food: that’s Artusi in Peckham. Dishes can change throughout the week, depending what produce is at its best, and pasta is handmade daily at the charming neighbourhood joint. Expect pasta e fagioli or ribbons of chestnut tagliatelle and secondi like bream with peperonata or bavette with pumpkin. Don’t miss the incredible set Sunday lunch: primi, secondi and dolci for a steal at £20. The Artusi crew are also behind the brilliant Marcella, in Deptford.

17. Campania

Copy Link
23 Ezra St, Bethnal Green
London E2 7RH, UK
020 7613 0015

A stone’s throw from Hackney and Columbia Roads, Campania serves Italian food with a southern accent. The rustic warren of three dining rooms — including one particularly gorgeous covered courtyard — scattered with wooden furniture and candles stuck in empty wine bottles sets the stage. Homemade pasta is what does best here. Plump gnudi in sage butter, rich lamb ragù in a tangle of green pappardelle, and a tumble of tagliatelle alla vongole. Save room for the fluffy, boozy tiramisu.

18. Ombra

Copy Link
1 Vyner St
London E2 9DG, UK

Inspired by Venetian wine bars, this chilled-out spot is also canalside but found in Hackney. The wine list is excellent so get into the bacaro spirit and stop by for a glass and cicchetti like scarlet prawns and crostini. Staying for a plate of homemade pasta which shows off seasonal British ingredients is also highly recommended. Cornish crab is tangled through tagliolini, plump ravioli are stuffed with pumpkin, and porcini is given a starring role with tagliatelle. Make sure to get a crisp cannolo before departure.

1. Santa Maria Pizzeria

11 Bond St, London W5 5AP, UK

It’s Neapolitan all the way at Ealing’s Santa Maria. Keep things traditional with the margherita: a slim base topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan. However, the purists also have a short vegan (mamma mia!) menu including a (soy) cream of potato pie with onions and peppers. There are also locations in Chelsea and Fitzrovia, but this is the original, and remains the sine qua non of Neapolitan pizza in London, depending on who is making the claim.

11 Bond St
London W5 5AP, UK

2. The River Café

Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA, UK

An iconic pillar of Italian dining in London, The River Café in Hammersmith is as revered today as when Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray opened its doors more than 30 years ago. The menu, as it has always done, sings to the tune of the seasons and shows off the finest ingredients. Expect risotto with winter greens, dover sole whole roasted in the hot pink wood oven or buffalo ricotta-stuffed ravioli drenched in marjoram butter. There’s always one constant: the decadent chocolate nemesis dessert.

Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith
London W6 9HA, UK

3. Locanda Locatelli

8 Seymour St, Marylebone, London W1H 7JZ, UK

One for special occasions, Giorgio Locatelli’s Locanda Locatelli is just as thrilling as it was when it opened nearly 20 years ago. The convivial atmosphere in Marylebone is the result of Locatelli’s unstinting commitment to hospitality excellence, which, like his food, never rests on well-earned laurels. Brilliant dishes like freshly made pappardelle with ceps; or malfatti potato parcels with peppers, mint, and Parmesan; and roast monkfish with walnut and caper sauce and samphire keep diners happy, and coming back for more.

8 Seymour St, Marylebone
London W1H 7JZ, UK

4. Vasco & Piero's Pavilion Italian Restaurant

11 D'Arblay St, London W1F 8DT, UK

This Soho stalwart has lost none of its Umbrian charm since its unceremonious removal from Poland Street. In new premises, conscientious fresh pasta still rules, with Tuscan sausages, grilled fish, and chicken Milanese taking centre stage come mains.

11 D'Arblay St
London W1F 8DT, UK

5. Sorella

148 Clapham Manor St, Clapham Town, London SW4 6BX, UK

Order a house vermouth on the rocks then dive headfirst into Sorella’s succinct menu for a taste of the Amalfi Coast in Clapham. Nibble on deep-fried Nocellara olives and perhaps some peppery pork and fennel salumi. Proving beige is best, there’s tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and truffle or the underrated squash gnocchi with chard. Charred whole plaice and crispy potatoes provide a cheering third act. Then dessert. There’s no doubt that the malted barley affogato is deserving of its fan base but the perfectly balanced plate of Casatica di Bufala, plums, honey and walnut crackers is another worthy dish. Or, just get both.

148 Clapham Manor St, Clapham Town
London SW4 6BX, UK

6. Bocca di Lupo

12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB, UK

Still possessing one of the most enchanting menus in the city, Jacob Kenedy’s Soho restaurant (and its adjacent gelato parlour, Gelupo) spans Italian regionalism with aplomb. Roman fritti; pasta in tribute to Bologna, Sardinia, and Veneto; a caffe corretto straight from Hades. 14 years after opening, it remains as bewitching as it is seminal.

12 Archer St
London W1D 7BB, UK

7. Bar Italia

22 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RF, UK

It’s fair to say that Soho’s Bar Italia is an institution, serving espressos from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. Watch Frith Street go by from an outside table or grab a stool inside the narrow, paraphernalia-filled cafe. Cappuccinos and croissants are order of the day for breakfast, or stop by for a late-night cannolo and caffeine kick.

22 Frith St, Soho
London W1D 4RF, UK

8. Italo

13 Bonnington Square, London SW8 1TE, UK

Pull up a bright red chair outside the bright blue Italo deli on the corner of a leafy street in Vauxhall. There might be vitello tonnato, cold sliced veal with a heavy slick of creamy sauce with capers, or plates nearly overflowing with golden polenta, wild mushrooms and sage. Browse the colourful shelves, packed full of Italian imports, before leaving with some pasta or exemplary canned tomatoes.

13 Bonnington Square
London SW8 1TE, UK

9. Cafe Murano Covent Garden

36 Tavistock St, London WC2E 7PB, UK

For refined and generous dishes, look no further than Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano. The menu picks the best from Italy’s northern regions: tortelli stuffed with pumpkin; hearty risotto Milanese with osso bucco. Punchy flavours accent simply cooked meat and fish dishes, seen in tender grilled octopus with vibrant salsa verde and borlotti beans, or braised rabbit in a heady rosemary and tomato stew. There’s also a St James’ outpost of the restaurant and a Bermondsey location, too, but head for the Covent Garden spot and drop by the next-door pastificio for some homemade pasta to take home.

36 Tavistock St
London WC2E 7PB, UK

10. Ciao Bella

86-90 Lamb's Conduit St, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3LZ, UK

Ciao Bella in Bloomsbury embodies everything there is to love about a proper, old-school Italian restaurant. Step through the door to find an organised chaos of families crowded around tables, waiters weaving around the room with plates held high. Downstairs, rows of tables are packed into the room and packets of breadsticks await diners in their place settings. Snack on generous lumps of salty parmesan and sip robust chianti while deciding between spaghetti with clams or meatballs — pasta has the perfect al dente bite here. Or, there’s simply dressed grilled dover sole, and breaded, fried veal escalope, tangy with lemon. Take an after-dinner espresso out on the Lambs Conduit Street terrace, under glowing heaters.

86-90 Lamb's Conduit St, Bloomsbury
London WC1N 3LZ, UK

11. Brutto

35-37 Greenhill Rents, London EC1M 6BN, UK
A diner spears penne, in tomato and vodka sauce, on a fork.
A diner spears penne, in tomato and vodka sauce, on a fork.
Michaël Protin

It would be a mistake to classify Polpo founder Russell Norman’s new restaurant, on Farringdon’s Greenhill Rents, as a Tuscan nostalgia trip. Yes, bistecca alla Fiorentina is charred on the grill bars, flames licking up, before being served unadorned. Yes, chicken liver crostini; pasta e fagioli; red-and-white gingham tablecloths and Parmesan spooned from metal bowls. Yes, billowing tiramisu. Yes, plentiful Negronis; a stand-up bar where the coffee is cheaper than sitting down. But this is a London dining room that feels like it’s been around forever, not stuck in an endless Italian past.

35-37 Greenhill Rents
London EC1M 6BN, UK

12. Luca

88 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4EH, UK

Younger sibling to The Clove Club in Shoreditch, Luca is just as understatedly elegant. This quietly glamorous Clerkenwell restaurant serves ‘Britalian’ dishes — Italian food mostly using British produce. First things first, order a portion of the crispy parmesan fries, and don’t share. Dishes move with the time of year: it’s always worth trying whichever pasta is paired with the seasonal pesto. It won’t be traditional — think pistachio and spinach or kale and chilli — but don’t fear change. Then there are dishes made for comfort: tender ox cheek with lemon polenta, Hebridean lamb with bagna cauda, or a wedge of glazed, roasted Delica pumpkin with chestnuts and buttered onions.

88 St John St, Clerkenwell
London EC1M 4EH, UK

13. Trullo

300-302 St Paul's Rd, Highbury East, London N1 2LH, UK

A sleek, chic dining room in Islington sets the scene for Trullo’s unfussy Italian food. Dishes take the best of seasonal British produce and spin it into great antipasti, fantastic pastas, and secondi fresh from the charcoal grill. Skip the queues at Padella, the fresh pasta spot in Borough Market, and enjoy the signature beef shin pappardelle or pici cacio e pepe at a slower pace. There’s also ever so smoky aubergine parmigiana and hearty Black Hampshire pork chop with salsa verde on a bed of polenta. The accessible wine list is fantastic.

300-302 St Paul's Rd, Highbury East
London N1 2LH, UK

14. manteca

49-51 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3PT, UK

Chris Leach (formerly Sager + Wilde) and Smokestak’s David Carter have moved in to Shoreditch after a long stint in Soho. To go with top antipasti, including a new pig skin ragu with pig skin double banker, there’s a carousel of pasta plates. There’s usually something stuffed, perhaps with pumpkin or mushroom, and ribbons of pappardelle tossed through ox cheek or duck ragù to go with delicate tortellini bobbing in brodo. But there’s almost always the outrageous brown crab cacio e pepe — order it or regret it.

49-51 Curtain Rd
London EC2A 3PT, UK

15. Legare

Cardamom Bldg, 31 Shad Thames, Tower Bridge, London SE1 2YR, UK

With a Trullo alumnus behind the stove and an ex-Barrafina and Koya City general manager on the floor, recently-opened Legare has a short but sweet menu from which to pick and mix snacks, antipasti and pastas. Build a world-beating ham sandwich with gnocchi fritti and mortadella; dive into tajarin drenched in butter and sage; and eat those greens in the form of baby gem lettuce drizzled with gorgonzola, sharp pickled shallot, and crunchy pangrattato.

Cardamom Bldg, 31 Shad Thames, Tower Bridge
London SE1 2YR, UK

Related Maps

16. Artusi

161 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4DH, UK

A bright, white room, a short simple menu and rustic Italian food: that’s Artusi in Peckham. Dishes can change throughout the week, depending what produce is at its best, and pasta is handmade daily at the charming neighbourhood joint. Expect pasta e fagioli or ribbons of chestnut tagliatelle and secondi like bream with peperonata or bavette with pumpkin. Don’t miss the incredible set Sunday lunch: primi, secondi and dolci for a steal at £20. The Artusi crew are also behind the brilliant Marcella, in Deptford.

161 Bellenden Rd
London SE15 4DH, UK

17. Campania

23 Ezra St, Bethnal Green, London E2 7RH, UK

A stone’s throw from Hackney and Columbia Roads, Campania serves Italian food with a southern accent. The rustic warren of three dining rooms — including one particularly gorgeous covered courtyard — scattered with wooden furniture and candles stuck in empty wine bottles sets the stage. Homemade pasta is what does best here. Plump gnudi in sage butter, rich lamb ragù in a tangle of green pappardelle, and a tumble of tagliatelle alla vongole. Save room for the fluffy, boozy tiramisu.

23 Ezra St, Bethnal Green
London E2 7RH, UK

18. Ombra

1 Vyner St, London E2 9DG, UK

Inspired by Venetian wine bars, this chilled-out spot is also canalside but found in Hackney. The wine list is excellent so get into the bacaro spirit and stop by for a glass and cicchetti like scarlet prawns and crostini. Staying for a plate of homemade pasta which shows off seasonal British ingredients is also highly recommended. Cornish crab is tangled through tagliolini, plump ravioli are stuffed with pumpkin, and porcini is given a starring role with tagliatelle. Make sure to get a crisp cannolo before departure.

1 Vyner St
London E2 9DG, UK

Related Maps