In our era of deconstructed desserts, how has Italy’s most ritualistically constructed one fared? Pretty well, actually: it feels like tiramisù is everywhere right now. And no wonder — the ultimate post-pasta pick-me-up is even better than the sum of its independently stellar parts. Here’s where to find London’s best examples, from trad slabs to frozen renderings.Read More
10 Terrific Tiramisùs to Try In London
The classic Italian dessert takes many forms — here are the city’s best
Not to be confused with an ombré tiramisù, Ombra’s tiramisù is a classic of the genre. Silky-smooth mascarpone, optimally soaked sponge and a generous topping of grated chocolate: a couple of bites will turn the Hackney canalside into a Venetian bacaro.
“Like the bow of the Titanic,” one diner was moved to comment recently after Brawn’s tiramisù arrived at the table. Elegant yet substantial — like everything else on the menu here — it supplements the customary dusting of cocoa with finely grated dark chocolate, and the mascarpone layer is gorgeously golden and custardy. One for sophisticates.
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It might not be as ludicrous as the lemon meringue pie or have as many layers as the lasagne, but Gloria’s tiramisù is still pretty extra. Rising from its cute ceramic container like a soufflé, it’s all billowing drifts of mascarpone and whisper-light sponge.
4. Ciao Bella
Like everything served at Lambs Conduit Street’s beloved and venerable trattoria, resident since 1983, the tiramisù here is made with love and served with no frills. Homemade sponge fingers, zabaglione and coffee cream, plus amaretto and bittersweet cocoa powder come together in the happiest of unions. Forking through the layers on one of the outside tables on a sunny day is hard to beat.
5. Terroni of Clerkenwell
Come picnic season, tiramisù’s Achilles heel becomes glaringly apparent: it isn’t very portable. Step forward legendary Clerkenwell deli Terroni, whose single-serving version comes in its own little tray and boasts impressive structural integrity, thanks to just the right ratio of mascarpone to sponge. It isn’t just ideal for the park: squirrel one back to the office after a bargain lunchtime plateful of fresh pasta.
6. Mortimer House Kitchen
A complaint often levelled against tiramisù by agnostics is that it doesn’t have much in the way of textural contrast. Not so at Fitzrovia’s Mortimer House Kitchen, where new head chef Lello Favuzzi sends his out with a sprinkling of crisp almond-and-chocolate brittle, lending a pleasing crunch. It isn’t massive, which means it can easily be squeezed in after prawn crudo and smoked burrata-filled herb tortelli.
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7. Chin Chin Dessert Club (Chin Chin Ice Cream)
Ever wondered what would happen if someone took a tiramisù and turned it into an ice cream sundae? Wonder no longer: Chin Chin Labs has cracked it in its Soho parlour. A cocoa-dusted scoop of the dense, almost chewy coffee and olive oil ice cream sits atop a cloud of whipped mascarpone, with structural support lent by an espresso-soaked brownie cookie. Brain-freeze is inevitable, but a price worth paying.
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This is a proper, old-fashioned, square-cut tiramisù, of the kind found in provincial pizzerias circa 1994, i.e. the best kind. It’s of a piece with Pastaio’s gleefully gluttonous, edginess-be-damned ethos: elsewhere on the menu there are prosecco slushies, a fried mozzarella, ‘nduja and honey sandwich, and a whopping great sharing bowl of six-hour beef shin reginette.
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9. The Crown
Prunes and dark chocolate are natural bedfellows, so it figures that Henry Harris would use armagnac in his tiramisu at his new Chiswick pub, rather than the more traditional marsala — or Baileys, a la Nigella Lawson. It’s dinky, but that’s probably just as well, as it packs a hefty alcoholic punch. Its Franco-Italian vibe fits with the spirit of the whole enterprise: dishes like grilled rabbit with Alsace bacon and oxtail ragout with polenta sit alongside on the menu.
10. Stockwell Continental
Sharing desserts, so often a source of simmering rage, are generally best avoided. The tiramisù at Stockwell Continental, one of south London’s premier antipasti and pizza purveyors, is the exception that proves the rule. Order it and a serving easily big enough to feed six comes to the table — even if there are only two people with spoons at the ready. Deep, light but rich, and judiciously boozy, with just enough bite left in the sponge, it’s close to perfect.