There was a time when few would have recognised the panettones stacked in London’s Italian delicatessens. But now it’s impossible to do a Christmas shop without tripping over the lovely things. To meet the demand for variety, panettones have been ‘pimped’ with all kinds of fancy additions including booze, creams and chocolate – but we like them ‘classico’ and set out to find the traditional panettones from London’s Italian delis and cafés. Here are seven places where you can get them.
Gastronomica, Borough Market
Gastronomica in Borough Market only imports high-quality food from Italy, so their Albertengo Tradizionales should be good. They come with a ‘glassato’ frosted coating of pearled sugar and nuts. The cost of a good traditional panettone may vary widely, but it’s safe to say with panettone, you get what you pay for. These are at the high end, but as the staff say: they’re worth it! 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL.
I Camisa & Son and Lina Stores, Soho
I Camisa & Son and Lina Stores both sell top-of-the-range panettones. I Camisa stocks the Flamigni, a beautiful traditional cake. The staff say, ‘the more butter, the better'. And the Flamigni is chock-full of it. They sold shedloads last year. Lina favours the trendy-looking Cova Milano Classico and panettones don’t come more authentic than a genuine Milano. 61 Old Compton St, W1D 6HS and 18 Brewer St, W1R 3FS.
Twenty years ago, Antonio Carluccio chose a family firm in Turin to make his panettones. Today the same firm produces Carluccio’s panettones (available across London). The staff at Garrick Street reckon the difference is in the yeast and proving. They must be right as they’re a good tasting cake.
Luigi’s Delicatessen, Fulham
Everybody should go to Luigi’s Delicatessen on the Fulham Road. It’s a Christmas toy shop for foodies and stuffed full of panettones. Its own brand Tradizionale comes in two versions – glassato and plain – and they're good ones: moist, light and buttery with a heady and exotic aroma of vanilla and fruit. Packaged in attractive red wrapping, they would make a top Christmas present. 349 Fulham Rd, SW10 9TW.
Natoora has a knack for sourcing good fruit and veg – and its Classic Gran Galup proves it can source a good cake, too. Made in Piedmont, Italy according to a traditional recipe, it comes with a glassato frosting and is packed with candied fruits and raisins. 35 Turnham Green Terrace, W4 1RG and 245 Pavilion Road, SW1X 0BP.
Gennaro Delicatessen, Lewisham
The quest for the perfect panettone led this delicatessen to a small traditional patisserie in Milan who now produce Gennaro’s own delicious panettone. Like most Italian delicatessens it sells other panettones too; including the rich and fruity Tre Marie and the light and fruity Vergani of Milan (with gluten-free options). Manager Antonio likes to explain the story of panettone and offers samples while his customers make their choice. 23 Lewis Grove, Lewisham, SE13 6BG.
Giacobazzi’s Italian delicatessen in Hampstead tops all the polls for London’s favourite deli – and it's no wonder. It's wowing its customers with Christmas produce including a good range of panettones. The cheapest is Bauli, a classic brand that has been going for donkey’s years and always sells out. But the favourite is their own Giacobazzi's exclusive; it’s soft, full of fruit and mouth-wateringly fragrant. Perfect for tucking into in front of the holiday telly. 150 Fleet Rd, NW3 2QX.