Big Mamma, the swashbuckling group behind Gloria and Circolo Popolare, have been busy under lockdown. They launched an extremely good delivery service called Napoli Gang and everyone applauded. But in the background, secretly, they were beavering away at something much bigger. Something that promises to shake the very foundations of London's restaurant scene. Yes, they are about to open an enormous new restaurant.
Ave Mario, located on Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, is set to serve its first plate of penne (if they serve penne) today (July 2) after delaying its mooted June opening by a week. It's a 295-seat behemoth, spread over 7,000 square feet and three ‘different ambiences’. And no, that doesn't mean the rooms smell different. It means it has a few different vibes, to help with your debilitating Instagram habit.
‘Start out past the first of two terraces and into a vast dining room,’ explains a spokesperson, ‘lit by innumerable skylights and enveloped in green-and-white Duomo-striped walls. Call “Saluti!” to the barmen as you pass a 3,500 bottle wall at the feature bar, then enter the cosy, natural indoor courtyard which opens out on to another 36-seat terrace. If you’re in the mood to party, take a trip downstairs to the ’70s-luxe mirrored basement with lowered kitchen, and our first counter dining to watch those crazy pizzaiolos do their thing.’
I’m glad they explained all that because describing three different ambiences looks exhausting.
What’s all the more remarkable is that the head chef, one ‘Chef Andrea’, is just 23 years old. You won’t get any of the Gloria or Circle Poplare classics here either. Instead, expect new showstoppers like carbonara ravioli filled with pecorino cream, egg yolk and crispy guanciale flakes; a gigantic cotoletta milanese made with high-welfare rose veal; a pizza described as ‘the pillowiest pizza you will ever eat’; and a two-foot-tall stracciatella ice-cream cake marbled with chocolate spread. Good Lord.
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