Carluccio's Caffè

Restaurants, Italian Covent Garden

Carluccio’s has encountered some choppy waters in recent years, but a lunchtime visit to its flagship restaurant revealed it largely to be sailing fair. Up a stone staircase attractively decorated with pots of herbs are two floors of dining rooms (downstairs is the deli). Noise levels reflect a strong mum-and-toddler contingent yet aren’t uncivilised. Service, however, can seem distracted. Slightly burnt toast made with Tuscan bread let down a gorgeously velvety chicken liver pâté; better was calamari fritti – tender and not too greasy. Penne alla luganica (pasta with sausage sauce) looked underwhelming, but had just the right concentration of meat and seasoning. Beef stew slow-cooked with Chianti is a regular favourite, its rich taste and soft texture marrying nicely with polenta for perfect winter comfort food. On our summer lunchtime visit, however, we opted for another of Carluccio’s signature dishes: penne giardiniera, a highly enjoyable vegetarian mix of chilli, courgette and fried spinach balls. Panna cotta with vanilla, rum and candied orange proved an exquisite finish. The wine list is friendlier than many Italian rivals, offering several bottles under £20, plus three types of Peroni beer and classic Italian aperitivo.


Venue name: Carluccio's Caffè
Address: 2A Garrick Street
Opening hours: Breakfast served 8am-11.30pm Mom-Fri; 9am-11.30pm Sat; 9am-10.30pm Sun. Meals served 12.30-11.30pm Mon-Sat; 12.30-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden tube
Price: Main courses £8.95-£15.95. Set meal £9.95 2 courses, £13.45 3 courses
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Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

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I quite often go to my local Carluccio's in Shepherd's Bush. As we were looking for a bite to eat before the theatre, we popped into the Carluccio Covent Garden. I had my usual Betroot & Goat cheese salad. I was a bit disappointed as pieces of betroot were huge, not finely cut. Service was quick but we had to remind about the water we asked earlier. It was ok if you want it quick and not too expensive.


Slightly more commercialised and slick than you'd want from an Italian spot, it's a solid stop for decent coffee and cakes, as well as some polished Italian dishes. Always feels like this is a family restaurant trying to be an intimate/fancy restaurant. A reasonable choice if you're not too fussy over distracted (but friendly) staff, and is keen to relax and people-watch.

Would avoid if in a rush, but being in a rush isn't very Italian in the first place.

Favourite Italian in town! Lovely ambience & great food. My favourite are the Pasta with fired spinach balls & zucchini.

The olive starter and garlic bread was ok, nothing to write home about. For the main course i ordered Carbonara, i usually stay clear of this as for something so simple it can be badly done, well this was one of the worst i have ever had, spaghetti swimming in a ton of tasteless cream and pancetta, my friend had the ravioli which was also not good, poorly seasoned, with a tasteless sauce. Overall i am surprised that any italian let alone Carluccio would lend their name to food of this standard.

Poor service, dull greasy main course, topped off by them trying to massively overcharge us. Somehow the fixed price menu got forgotten and the glass of wine turned in to a bottle. I don't like the bare faced cheek from the slimey waiter with a dodgy attempt at a moustache. I recommend AVOID.