Quality varies between branches, of course, but in the main Carluccio’s makes a decent job of being everyone’s favourite Italian chain restaurant. The Smithfield site is handy for Barts Hospital as well as nearby offices; at weekends, it’s more of a hangout for local residents.
Specials supplement a menu of tried and tested dishes. You’ll find antipasti sharing plates, hearty salads, pastas (penne alla luganica, with an Italian sausage sauce, is spicy comfort food), a daily-changing risotto and mains that encompass pollo alla cacciatora (roast chicken breast with tomato and herb sauce and potatoes) and fritto misto (crispy calamari, whitebait, prawns and sea bass fillet, floured, fried and served with garlic mayonnaise). Puddings feature vanilla and rum panna cotta, tiramisu and a selection of ices. There’s a breakfast menu too.
Service is generally good, and staff are great with youngsters (what’s more, the children’s menu is excellent value). This branch has a small shop at the front, a big deli counter along one side, and a restaurant in a big airy room at the rear, done out in the company’s trademark blue and white colour scheme.