Cecconi's Shoreditch
Safia Shakarchi

The best Italian restaurants in London

From rustic plates of pasta to delish regional specialities, discover the greatest Italian food in the capital

Leonie Cooper
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Pasta and pizza are way more than just fast-food comfort carbs at these exceptional London restaurants, which excel in showcasing properly good Italian cuisine. The basics – a creamy carbonara, say, or a simple margherita – are all present and correct, but the capital’s repertoire extends to stylish antipasti, crusty sourdough pizzas, richly sauced pasta and beyond. You can also find finely crafted specialities drawn from the traditional trattorias of the rustic south and fashion-conscious north of the country at London’s best Italian restaurants.

From super-spenny spots like The River Café and Luca, to cheaper but just as tasty neighbourhood joints like Artusi, Tiella at The Compton Arms, and the legendary Ciao Bella – as well as everyone’s fave one-stop pasta shop Padella – London’s Italian dining scene is irreproachable.

RECOMMENDED: The 50 Best London Restaurants

Leonie Cooper is Time Out London’s Food and Drink Editor. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Top London Italian restaurants

  • Italian
  • Highbury
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Highbury’s star Italian has been combining irresistible food with spot-on service and some of London’s best pasta since 2010.

Why go? For the pappardelle with slow-cooked beef-shin ragù (a silky delight) and brilliant stuff from the charcoal grill, like whole Cornish mackerel with panzanella. The menu changes daily and the comprehensive all-Italian wine list only serves to emphasise Trullo’s calibre.

  • Italian
  • Bloomsbury

What’s the vibe? A trattoria so authentic you’ll think you’re actually in Italy until you glimpse Lamb's Conduit Street through the windows. This much-loved joint has been serving up classico dishes for decades, and ‘La Dolce Vita’ is the vibe, with framed black-and-white pics of Italian actors lining the walls.

Why go? Big bowls of pasta and bigger glasses of chianti are the recommended order of the day at this always lively neighbourhood favourite.   

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  • Italian
  • Farringdon

What's the vibe? A gorgeous, Tuscan-inspired trattoria from the marvellous mind of the late, great restaurateur Russell Norman (who founded Soho's equally game-changing Venetian small plates spot Polpo). Portions are large, service is glorious and food is outstanding. 

Why go? If the £5 Negronis don't swing if for you, then their signature opening snack – 'cuddles' of deep fried dough which come served with prosciutto and stracchino cheese – will bring a smile to even the grumpiest of faces. 

  • Italian
  • Canonbury
  • price 2 of 4

What's the vibe? A permanent pop-up at one of our favourtite Highbury & Islington pubs, Tiella is the one-woman project of chef Dara Klein, who brings her family’s rustic Italian cooking – and her experience at Trullo, Rubedo, Brawn and Sager & Wilde – to this lovely backstreet boozer. 

Why go? Tiella’s menu is largely in Italian but cheery servers will happily translate the likes of ciceri e tria (pasta with chickpeas), just in case you haven’t quite got to the Puglian snacks section of your Duolingo course yet. Brave the busy pub crowds for Sicillian fritters topped with tangy marinated anchovy, smoked ricotta floating in a pool of sweet honey and perfect panzanella.

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  • Italian
  • Borough
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A south London sibling of Trullo, this sleek, speedy pasta joint serves up dishes that are small enough and cheap enough to let you overindulge horribly.

Why go? The daily menu might run from tagliarini with crab, lemon and chilli, to fettuccine with Scottish girolles, although the pappardelle with eight-hour beef-shin ragù is a fixture. 

  • Italian
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4
Artusi
Artusi

What’s the vibe? This honest-to-goodness Italian is just about the most perfect local restaurant you can imagine: smart but low-key, cool without being pretentious and brilliant value despite its sky-high quality.

Why go? For a concise, market-led chalkboard menu that offers constantly changing seasonal dishes such as crispy ox tongue, roasted sprouts with homemade ricotta and hazelnuts, and leg of lamb with bagna cauda, borlotti beans and kale.

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  • Italian
  • Shoreditch

What's the vibe? Cecconi's has been a London favourite since the 1970s. Now under the watchful eye of the Soho House Group, their Shoreditch branch is a super slick space, and prides itself on northern Italian cicchetti. Unlike most Italian spots in town, it's open all though the day, kicking off at 7.30am with a breakfast focaccia stuffed with mortadella, fried egg and burrata.

Why go? Due to the Soho House link there's some lowkey star-spotting to be done alongside the punchy menu of pizza, pasta and big trad-leaning dishes such as saltimbocca alla romana, veal milanese, and whole sea bream. Equally, a few plates of zucchini fritti, beef carpaccio, tuna tartare and that warm, fluffy focaccia with a bottle of montepulciano d'abruzzo is a perfectly respectable order. 

  • Italian
  • Covent Garden
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A sleek Italian restaurant in Covent Garden with a short, simple menu that’s split into three sections: antipasti, pasta and dessert. There are generally around eight plates of pasta on the menu and half of them are usually suitable for veggies. Proper al dente pasta is slightly undercooked, and hard to get right, but the chefs here nail it. 

Why go? For the poetically named ‘silk handkerchiefs’ (technically called fazzoletti) with walnut butter and confit egg yolk. Simple, but delicious: soft sheets swimming in a rich sauce, with little chunks of walnut for texture.

 

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  • Fusion
  • Clerkenwell
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? From the creators of Shoreditch’s Clove Club, this upscale venture channels the Riviera-style glamour and primi-secondi decadence of Italian restaurants that are a world away from ‘Lady and the Tramp’ trattoria set-pieces. In 2023 it was awarded a Michelin star, so you know you're in for a treat.

Why go? Luca is billed as a ‘Britalian’ eatery, so expect Italian dishes using UK ingredients – as in Scottish halibut with sweetcorn, tarragon, girolles and white balsamic vinegar. Pricey but worth it – try the prix fixe for £85.

  • Italian
  • Soho

What’s the vibe? The buzz is as important as the food at this enduringly popular Soho Italian. Dine at the bar and you’re in for a fun time – especially if you sit by the window, watching celebs swan into the clamorous dining room. 

Why go? The ever-changing menu celebrates the best of artisan regional cooking in diverse ways, while enticing cocktails and impressive all-Italian wines also make an impact. 

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  • Italian
  • Shoreditch

What’s the vibe? From former Sager + Wilde head chef Chris Leach and Smokestak founder David Carter comes this classy ‘nose-to-tail’ Italian restaurant, with elegant hand-rolled pasta and a sustainable cooking ethic. 

Why go? For the mindblowing menu, which at last look included ’nduja-steamed mussels with cream and parsley, fazzoletti with duck ragù and duck-fat pangrattato, and Tamworth pork chop with grilled peaches. Woof! 

  • Italian
  • Mayfair
  • price 4 of 4

What's the vibe? The incredible Angela Hartnett's Mayfair Michelin-starred spot is fancy – aka expensive – but totally worth it. 

Why go? Pasta here is a highlight; the provolone and smoked potato agnolotti is basically a grown up mac and cheese and chicken tortellini in brodo is equally fabulous, swimming in a rich broth, brightened by lemon and pops of pickled turnip.  Whatever you get, you must order the wafer-thin cured meat and bouncy focaccia to start. 

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  • Italian
  • Hammersmith
  • price 4 of 4

What’s the vibe? Set back from the Thames Path, this legendary Michelin-starred destination is not only a riverside icon but one of the flag-bearers for provenance-led seasonal Italian cooking.

Why go? Warm, buzzy and uber-expensive (in an artfully casual way), RC is dedicated to serving unfussy yet stunning regional food based on top-drawer ingredients – salads, pasta and wood-roasted specialities are the headliners, all backed by fabulously expensive Italian wines.

  • Italian
  • Knightsbridge
  • price 3 of 4

What's the vibe? Open since 1974, Sale e Pepe is something of a London institution, tucked away on a back street near Harrods. Tables are closely packed; 'Happy Birthday' rings out every hour; and the limoncello flies freely.

Why go? This is a friendly but fancy old school Italian restaurant with dedicated regulars who come week in, week out for big tasty plates of pasta – such as the massive platter of linguine vongole e bottarga for two – and a lenghty crudo offering, as well as lashings of red wine, and extremely affable service. 

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  • Italian
  • Tower Bridge
  • price 2 of 4
Emilia’s Crafted Pasta
Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

What’s the vibe? What Franco Manca did for pizza, Emilia’s cute-as-a-button pasta specialist is doing for Italy’s other carb of choice.

Why go? The small selection lets the quality of the ingredients speak for itself: the pasta is handmade on site each morning and dressed with, say, salmon carbonara, proper pesto or slow-cooked, béchamel-laced ragù. Antipasti, dolci and wallet-friendly wines complete the picture. There’s a second branch in Aldgate and a third in Canary Wharf.

  • Italian
  • Deptford
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? The owners of Peckham’s hit Italian Artusi (see above) have applied the magic formula to its Deptford sibling Marcella, where you’ll find the same sleek, simple approach and equally friendly staff.

Why go? Dishes change throughout the week and come chock-full of homemade elements. Pasta is one of the stars, but everything is counterpointed with market-fresh ingredients and even the simplest ideas reveal surprising depths. 

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  • Italian
  • Marylebone
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? One of London’s most highly regarded Italian chefs, Giorgio Locatelli, displays his profound connection to his country’s food and drink at his labour-of-love flagship restaurant. 

Why go? Although the setting’s polished and the food is Michelin-starred, it avoids pomp – instead, expect a joyful gallop through the styles, regions and ingredients that make Italian cuisine such a pleasure. Our tip: don’t stint on the luscious desserts.

  • Italian
  • Bermondsey

What’s the vibe? A window showcasing trays of homemade ravioli lures passers-by into this Bermondsey pasta specialist. The menu’s short (around eight dishes) and affordable, the pasta is commendably al dente and the flavours sing.

Why go? For tortelloni with roasted pork shoulder and sage butter, linguine with monkfish, tomato, garlic and chilli, or taglierini with preserved truffle, butter emulsion and parmesan. No bookings, but it’s worth the wait.

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  • Italian
  • London Fields

What’s the vibe? Hackney locals love Lardo for its pared-back style, friendly staff and excellent Italian small plates. Fittingly for a restaurant named after the cured back fat of a pig, charcuterie is a speciality: try the delicious, paper-thin, fennel-pollen salami.

Why go? Crisp-based pizzas with leftfield artisan toppings are also a highlight, along with vegetable plates and homemade pasta. Sit at the bar and watch the chefs preparing your order.

  • Italian
  • Shoreditch
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Gloria’s main room is like your Italian nonna’s parlour, if she also had the kind of hoarding problem that would get her on to a late-night Channel 4 documentary. Every inch is covered with a knick or a knack: your head needs to spin 360 degrees to take it all in.

Why go? The food is similarly fun. Get the carbonara for two: it arrives on a trolley in a parmesan wheel, where it’s twirled and whirled around, picking up more bits of cheese along the way, then finally lifted high and plopped on to each plate.

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