Get us in your inbox


The Dover

  • Restaurants
  • Mayfair
  • price 3 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. The Dover
    The Dover
  2. The Dover
    Leonie Cooper for Time Out
  3. The Dover
    The Dover
  4. The Dover
    The Dover

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

An elegant worth-the-hype New York-inspired Italian restaurant in Mayfair

Despite only opening at the end of last year, The Dover already seems comfortably steeped in its own mythology. Usually it takes a place decades to gain such an alluring cache, but here’s The Dover at 6pm on a Thursday, heaving with heritage rock’n’roll blondes discussing trips to Marrakech and the air that Bianca Jagger might slink in at any moment on the back of a white pony. They even have their own slogan; ‘The Dover, a good place to be since 2023’, which is embossed on their chicer than chic martini mats (to call them beer mats would be deeply inappropriate). 

Usually the person behind the opening of a restaurant is less important than who happens to be doing all the hard work in the kitchen, but the fact that The Dover comes from the mind of Martin Kuczmarski – former Chief Operating Office of the Soho House group – actually means a great deal. Here is a man who knows how to craft accessible exclusivity and make everyone who’s outside gagging to be inside. 

This is not your average nonna’s kitchen but rather a shimmering space to see and be seen

Rather than an Italian Italian, The Dover is a self-styled ‘New York Italian’ that’s more Nolita than Naples. This is not your average nonna’s kitchen but rather a shimmering space to see and be seen, with gorgeous walnut wood walls that seem lifted directly from a 1930s cruise liner and a row of discreet corner booths that line the way from the bar to the raised dining room at the back of the restaurant.

The little touches are as important as the large ones, as well as a giant black curtain behind check-in – meaning there’s no chance of prudish daylight ever seeping inside – there’s also a handwritten reservations book, it’s only open only in the evenings, and you must book by phone. One such detail is, however, slightly suss. Despite a proud spot stacked with excellent vinyl (Teddy Pendergrass, Patrice Rushen, Roy Ayres) and a pair of shiny 1210s, neither deck is spinning, with music instead presumably coming from an out-of-view playlist.   

The menu isn’t doing anything too out of the ordinary – there’s no smalahoves or blodplättars here – in fact, it’s avoiding experimentation like the plague. Instead there’s a long-enough list of well-done trad classics; spaghetti meatballs, parmigiana, penne arrabbiata, burger and fries, fillet mignon, and, of course, a house Dover sole. After a gibson martini which is so punchy it almost renders us unconscious, we dive into the Platonic ideal of a prawn cocktail. Served in an icy glass tower and with plenty of Marie Rose and horseradish, at £20 it seems relatively reasonable for the area. The Dover ain’t cheap, but considering that a mid £20s main is now commonplace in Hackney, prices here seem almost a steal for Mayfair. Equally, a massive pile of zucchini and sweet potato fritti with lemon, aioli and jalapeño was £11. 

The most leftfield dish we can spot is ‘quattro formaggi on toast’, a hunk of crispy focaccia layered with cheese upon cheese and shavings of black truffle, which is branded a ‘snack’, but in terms of size puts most starters to shame. Portions here are big; in true New York spirit, mains could easily be shared between two with a side of fries and you wouldn't leave anywhere near hungry. Crispy-skinned branzino fillets (we’ll allow the creeping Americanisation of sea bass just this once), were deliriously salty with olive caponata and green sauce, and a hefty chicken cordon bleu bobbed around contentedly in a ruddy pizzaiola sauce. To finish, we just about managed to squeeze in a slice of baked cheesecake brulee with sour cherries. The Dover, you see, isn’t really about the food, but the fact that everything we ate was damn good makes it even more of a reason to go as soon as you can pick up the phone. 

The vibe New York style dining in Mayfair in an unrelentingly gorgeous room.   

The food Traditional Italian-American dishes, from pasta to steak. 

The drink Martinis are the done thing here with seven different kinds on the menu, each more potent than the last. Try the frankly delicious Dover, with orange bitters. 

Time Out tip Swing by the no-bookings-needed bar at the front if you can’t land a booking in the main restaurant; there’s a very decent menu of bar snacks, including burger and fries for £25.

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper


33 Dover St
Do you own this business?
Sign in & claim business
You may also like
You may also like
Bestselling Time Out offers