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London's best Italian restaurants

From rustic plates of pasta to finely crafted regional specialities

From crusty sourdough pizzas to Venetian small plates, from Michelin star restaurants to rustic eateries, tap into London’s vibrant Italian restaurant scene. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

A Cena

Venue says: £10 express lunch Tuesday-Saturday noon-2:30pm (a la carte also available).

Just south of Richmond Bridge, this traditional Italian local was half full with a mix of families and dowdyish couples on our Sunday lunchtime visit. It isn’t a particularly romantic spot – our booth table was too wide for intimate banter, the dark decor a little gloomy – but the generous, mostly reliable food makes up for it. A Cena’s owners, Tim and Camilla Healy, are spreading their net and are now co-owners of Orso and Joe Allen in Covent Garden.

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St Margarets

Bocca di Lupo

Critics' choice

The buzz is as important as the food at Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo’s enduringly popular Soho restaurant. Dine at the bar and you’re in for a fun night, or afternoon – especially if you’re by the window. It’s the perfect perch from which to watch favourite actresses swan in. Staff reassuringly affirm, ‘It’s sooo good,’ to virtually everything you suggest – and sometimes they’re right. We have fond memories of buttery brown shrimp on soft, silky white polenta (the Venetian preference), and a deep-fried mix of calamari, soft-shell crab and lemon.

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Soho

Enoteca Turi

Critics' choice

In keeping with its name, Enoteca Turi has a particularly strong all-Italian wine list packed with treasures – our recommendation, an elegant pecorino, was spot-on. The decor feels a little dated, but the restaurant’s plus points – a convivial atmosphere, great wines, faultless service and a warm heart – are proving a winning formula in a neighbourhood overrun with soulless chains.

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Putney

Lardo

If a restaurant is named after the cured back fat of a pig, you can expect that charcuterie is among its specialities – and so it is here. But lardo itself isn’t on the menu at Lardo, except as a pizza topping, so our charming, clued-up waiter bought a plate specially. It was excellent, as was the paper-thin fennel pollen salame. Other small plates on the short menu are divided into ‘cold’ (simple but satisfying puréed cannellini beans with black olives), ‘warm’ (an unctuous bowl of braised chicory and melted fonduta cheese topped with speck) and ‘hearty’ (Venetian lamb’s kidneys). 

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Hackney

Locanda Locatelli

Critics' choice

One of London’s most highly regarded Italian chefs, Giorgio Locatelli was recently seen on BBC2’s Italy Unpacked communicating a deep connection to his country’s food and drink with engaging brio. It shows in the menu here, which ranges voraciously through styles, regions and ingredients (some little known). There’s technique aplenty, but it’s food made to be relished as well as admired.

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Marylebone

Polpetto

Another branch of the successful Polpo group, in Berwick Street. The long, low-lit dining room bubbles with attentive staff serving Italian-inspired small plates to the appreciative crowd who don’t seem to mind being seated on tightly packed tables. 

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Soho

Sardo

Critics' choice

The clue’s in the name: Sardo excels at Sardinian specialities. To come here for eat-anywhere dishes, such as grilled tuna steak, misses the point. But it’s largely thanks to the popularity of Romolo Mudu’s relaxed, welcoming ristorante that characteristic Sardinian ingredients such as fregola and malloreddus are finding their way on to other restaurants’ menus. 

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Fitzrovia

Tinello

Federico and Max Sali opened Tinello in 2010, after a firm grounding at Locanda Locatelli, where the former was head chef and his brother the sommelier. Here, great produce is treated with skill and respect for tradition, but dishes still have the capacity to surprise. The pared-back elegance of the place – bare brick, dark wood, metal and mirrored tiles – reflects the simple perfection of the food and wine on offer.

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Belgravia

Trullo

Critics' choice

While evenings are still busy-to-frantic in this two-floored contemporary trattoria, lunchtime finds Trullo calm and the cooking relaxed and assured. Pappardelle with beef shin ragu has been a staple since Trullo’s early days and remains a silky, substantial delight. In opting for the set menu you miss out on the roasts and grills, but as a giant Black Hampshire pork chop and generous cod with cannellini beans and mussels whisked by our table, we weren’t sorry to have missed out on them – after all, where would we have put the succulent loquat and almond tart?

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Canonbury

Zucca

Critics' choice

A couple of pumpkins on the open kitchen counter reference the restaurant’s name and provide a touch of warmth to Zucca’s super-sleek interior. Gentle refurbishment has seen hard surfaces softened and, with light streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the room has a sophisticated Sydney vibe. Eat at the bar and you’ll look awkwardly conspicuous to the roomful of people behind; it’s best to book a table in advance. 

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The Borough
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Comments

6 comments
Sarah H
Sarah H

Papagones on Stroud Green Road, N4. Always packed, always brilliant service, always fantastic, tasty, reasonably-priced food. Their pizzas are the shit!

Hannah L
Hannah L

Il Mirto in East Dulwich. A small, independently-run casual restaurant with a Sardinian focus. As well as great pizza and pasta dishes, they also have a number of delectable specials, like wild boar tagliatelle - which are to die for. And all very reasonably priced. 

Agnė Š
Agnė Š

Best restaurant you will ever find in London: Ciao Bella on Lambs Conduit street - very cheap, food tastes amazing, has plenty of outside seating and amazing atmosphere. Best Italian restaurant I have ever been to!

chris
chris

Very disappointing sub-standard Italian food.Has the patron learned nothing, offering parmesan already ground up, decanted from a small supermarket container to top an uninspiring soupy bolognese sauce?. Why were my wife's prawns cooked in a mix of olive oil and water then no bread offered for mopping up? Why were the calamari rings leaking grease? A shame, it reminded me of English Italian food 30 or more years ago, but today there's no excuse.The restaurant was empty; taste travels fast, and unless a new chef is brought in, and a patron who takes more pride in what he is offering, this place is doomed.

mario rossi
mario rossi

17 Air Street restaurant Been eating at this,apparently new Italian cute little restaurant in Soho and i was surprised that is not mentioned anywhere on internet. We had such an authentic dinner .The staff made us feel part of the team even if the place was so busy.Lovely italian jazz was playing on cd . I had fritto misto and tasted like i was in the Amalfi coast.My wife had the gnocchi with fresh truffle.Simply delicious ....hope this will help this people and this place to be a little bit famous. Mario

Duncan
Duncan

Also great italian food to be had in the alternative dining scene in London. The 7th floor suppers are the mastgers on Melba. http://melba.co/feasts/217