Fratelli La Bufala

Restaurants, Italian Piccadilly Circus
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Fratelli La Bufala
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In 2005, the Italian chain Fratelli la Bufala opened a franchise in Hampstead. As with its Italian brethren, it served up buffalo both as delectable mozzarella, and as fine-grained meat. It was a good neighbourhood Italian restaurant. Over time, the Hampstead brother drifted away from the original formula, but hey, that’s what happens when the family grows up.

Then in 2012, the extended family fell out. The Hampstead restaurant changed name, and is now called Mimmo la Bufala. The Italian side of the family decided to open their own branch – closer to what is now the formula they use for their international chain of 100 restaurants, from Dubai to the US, right in the heart of tourist London.

This new Fratelli screams ‘chain restaurant’, from the identikit furnishings (plate glass, wipe-clean tables) to the branded aprons and menus. On our visit the service from our all-Italian waiting staff was neither coordinated nor attentive, but was pleasant enough.

Our buffalo steak, served on a sizzling cast-iron grill pan, was oddly bland, though we liked the retro-style, hand-cut crisps served with the dish. The mozzarella wasn’t as fresh as we’d have hoped for in a restaurant where this is part of their USP; our cheese was slightly dried out, and a little too rubbery in texture. A starter dish of salad, and a separate side dish of a differently-named salad, used near-identical ingredients – yet our waiter didn’t warn us of this duplication when we ordered. A pizza was made with good quality dough, but the base could have been much crisper and less dough-like.

Fratelli la Bufala is a mid-market, prominently-situated, perfectly adequate Italian restaurant serving grills and pizzas for tourists and passing trade. But if you’re looking for a really good Italian restaurant, with creative cooking and well-trained staff, you can do much better than this in central London.


Venue name: Fratelli La Bufala
Address: 40 Shaftesbury Ave
Opening hours: Open 8.30am-11.30pm daily
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus tube
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £70.
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Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:1
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  • 1 star:6
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Please accept my complain having being served by probably the worst server team in Europe. ever.

We all know that London could be very busy during a Friday’s evening serving and waiting people that could be tired after being working for several hours bur once I've been accepted as guests, I did not liked how long we have been waiting, for an embarrassing time today’s for Friday’s London Standards.

We had a really slow service today, which could be acceptable on Friday, if some of the staff were able to listen our need to have some drinks while waiting, instead of treating us as touristic Italians. Can you please ensure that at least the people working in your restaurant have at least had a previous experience working in the same environment?

After our requests we were well managed by the waiting staff, but after so much waiting for food and drinks, while finishing our meal we enquiry your waiter about which kind of Grappa he has available for us.

Your bartender kindly response that some of his product weren’t for us. I asked him kindly to explain. He said that some of the product on his shelves aren’t for paying customers. ???

For whom are they for then?? Do I need to wear a pair of branded glasses to drink something decent?

The Bartender refuse to serve me a Giada Grappa which I knew the price was 12£ per glass, which I accepted thought the server.

My guest was more than happy to taste it, but your server dissuaded him to try such a good flavour and taste because of the price.

Do you really think that the overpriced Grappa isn't for paid customers ? 

Your server did. Shame. Change server, or change your bar stocks.

I hope to receive a useful answer to this ridiculous matter.

Went there with family of 5 before a show, as Bella Italia was full. Food was perfectly good, as was the service. I found that my Peroni Beer had an unusual taste, but did not mention it. What did bother me was when I got home, I noticed that I had been charged a high Service Charge, of which I was not forewarned, or given the option of not paying. I had tipped the waitress also. Good practice should demand that this charge is made clear to the customer at the point of paying, and that it is optional. It is my policy to tip the staff, not the restaurant. I did feel this was underhand.

A tourist magnet, some quality pizzas, but an outrageous service fee charged that I just noticed at home (after also having conceded a generous tip), deemed as optional, that our host "Giulio" thought he just deserved. Don´t go there unless you want to have a real mafia-like experience in central London.

The best Italian restaurant I have ever been. London needed a proper Italians cooking the topo of the Regional cousin. Best Mozzarella eve, best pizza in London or even UK

I'm surprised at the previous reviewer's comments. I have taken family and friends to the restaurant on three occasions since it opened last year and each time the place was full and quite buzzy- lots of Italian tourists too ! We enjoyed the food- a different style of Italian cuisine - and the service was great. Good value . I have recommended FLB to friends and am looking forward to dining at the new site in Villiers Street which I spotted on my way home from work tonight. S

I visited here last week with my mother. Walked in, place was not busy, waiter saw us arrive, then turned away and had to be sent back by another waiter who pointed out we were waiting to be seated. With plenty of better tables available he proceeded to seat us next to a toilet and very busy staff door. We re-seated ourselves to a better table. 15 minutes more of being further ignored in an almost empty restaurant we decided to walk. Can’t speak as to the food other than it looked very much overpriced, I can however speak to the service though which was pathetic. Having read other reviews around the internet, I’m glad we did not stay to try the food.

Awful place. I went with my daughter before seeing a show. On arrival the floor manager was aggressive to both staff and customers. We asked to sit upstairs and he gave us a look as though we'd asked to sit in Buckingham Palace. My daughter's pasta arrived stone cold so had to be sent back; my Pollo and Pepperoni pizza arrived as something else but I ate it as we were running out of time. The waiter didn't speak good English so I specifically pointed out the order on the menu with the Union Jack next to it but he still got it wrong. A wallet-withering £6 for a Peroni. The bill arrived with a 12.5% service charge that I refused to pay so we were then treated like pariahs. It's just a money machine. Fleece the customers, get 'em in, get 'em out, and they're happy. A very unpleasant experience that I would not atall recommend.

We went to this restaurant for the first time as a friend suggested it. We were a party of 18 and we had made a reservation. When we got there, they put us in 2 separate tables distant from each other, one of which was very small and those who sat there had really to squeeze to fit in. When we tried to explain it to the floor manager, he said the restaurant was full and there was nothing to do about it. We should have left already at that point but we were a lot and it would have been almost impossible to find another place that would accommodate us. The service was very poor. The waitress that brought us a bottle of wine opened it as she was drilling a hole for oil, she totally wrecked the cork. The food was overpriced (£10.5 for a Margherita with aubergines? Seriously?) and there was nothing special about it. The pizza was undercooked and you still could see some parts uncooked. We waited about half an hour to pay our bill because there were problems with the credit card machine. All in all, a very bad experience. We will never go there again. It is inconceivable that a restaurant, just because it is situated in the very centre of London and therefore is sure to always have people no matter what they do, is not able to guarantee minimum quality standards. Is it so much you ask considering what you pay for it?

Incredible pizzas!! We were a party of 10, attending on Sat nite...and really had a great time!! Best pizzas in London - bar none!

I found the service at Piccadilly very good, fast and attentive. The Pizza is the best ive had outside of Naples and Ive had many Pizzas in Campania. Didnt try the rest of the menu just had a Margerita DOP - keep it simple how its meant to be. Timeout reviewer is clueless on what makes a true neapolitan pizza base - the pizza we had was spot on although somehow you can never find that elasticity you get in campania - maybe its the water.

Service is a disaster. They all seem to be doing it for the first time: waiters and waitresses are confused, not nice at all, and they forget about you, making you wait ages for stuff that is supposed to happen lightening fast. And the restaurant was not even ful. When we phoned for a reservation (on a Saturday) they said they don't take them because they cant' manage them (!!). Starter (Gran Piatto di Bufala) was average quality, ingredients not really fresh (note: I was born and bread in Naples, I know when this stuff is fresh and good). Pizza was ok, the dough was good, but ingredients are just average. Desserts are a mistake. Massive fail. Try again.

As chef I would like to say the quality of the food and service was very good, especially the buffalo mozzarella and the pizza. the price is reasonable considering the effort to get fresh produce and the location real amazing

Today was my first time in Fratelli La Bufala Piccadilly and I had the mozzarella that they have delivered fresh 3 times a week by plane and I must admit was really delicious. Then I had Pizza Margheritana with aubergines that was so good even better then in Napoli. I had the rumbaba for dessert it was so good i even share with the table seating next to me. the lady i share my desert with is a regular customer and also she is the head of the italian food academy ,talking to her she told me that this restaurant is well know as a meating place and for the good quality of food they provide, she also said because of the the good quality of food the restaurant provide she will recomand all her client in italy and london to the restaurant and i will also do the same the quality was spectacular.

I have been in most of the Italian restaurant in central London and my experience in Fratelli la bufala 40,Shaftesbury avenue was brilliant. I found the real neapolitan food and feel, starting with the juicy mozzarella that they import direct from Caserta 3 times a week. The pizza only in Napoli I had the same not better. The buffalo meat is new to me, and I must say it was really good. I will there again and again. Next to my table was a lady, we exchanged few words and I found out she is the The Head of the Italian academy of culinary in England. As she expressed Fratelli la bufala is frequented with the top of members the Italian Aristocrats and politician and not forgetting top members of the Italian Institute of Culture. She says if we came here must be good. I woul recommend to every one