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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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).Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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?Read more
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.Read more
Obicà Mozzarella Bar, Pizza e Cucina
Venue says: Every day from 5pm to 7pm, Obicà aperitivo, a mini selection of salumi and mozzarella served when you purchase an aperitif.
This Poland Street branch of the Obica group is one of four currently in London. It's a chain specialising in authentic Italian dishes and buffalo mozzarella - a cheese they source direct from Campania, and one that makes its way to Obica's plates within 48 hours. It can be sampled at the mozzarella bar, where diners can choose from four different varieties as well as bocconcini balls or a kilo of the stuff on its own - served with basil pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto and focaccia. They recommend you pair it with small plates, such as prosciutto, salami, olive oil cured tuna or caponata alla Siciliana - a dish of aubergine, pine nuts, almonds, raisins, capers and vinegar. Larger dishes include lasagne, tagliolini with black truffles from San Miniato, pappardelle with a Tuscan sausage ragu and pizzas, such as a margherita or one topped with n'duja and burrata, made with stone-ground Petra flour. Desserts range from tiramisu and torta di Capri to caramelised peach with a biscuit crumble and a strawberry cheesecake made with ricotta di bufala.