A superior Italian – with wood-fired pizzas, focaccia and salads, plus miles of tempting cakes and pastries – in beautiful surroundings.
Introduced to London by Alan Yau in 2008, this smart outpost of a Milanese bakery chain remains a popular all-day option. It’s an airy, good-looking room, with a sandstone interior, long black marble counters and a (slightly odd) water feature that runs the length of one wall. The food is varied enough to keep diners coming back for more: as well as cakes, pastries and breads, there’s a choice of filled focaccia (parma ham, say, or mortadella), hot dishes (lasagne, aubergine parmigiana), slices of pizza and lots of attractive salads (chicken and avocado, mozzarella and tomato). Prices are higher than average, but it’s all quality, seasonal stuff – a sweet blood orange juice being one glorious example. Not everything works – gem lettuce, caper and grilled pepper salad was super-salty; a quattro formaggi pizza slice was tasty but barely warm – but most things do. The only real deterrent is the self-service set-up, which is slightly chaotic, despite the best efforts of the charming staff, and you have rejoin the queue for cake or (excellent) coffee. Finding a seat at the communal counters can also be something of a trial. Opt out by dining in the pizzeria (to the left as you enter), which offers table service and a marginally calmer atmosphere in which to enjoy a short but classy range of pizzas.