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best everyday italian in London

I love Locanda Locatelli, but can't afford to eat there very often. would love recommendations for the best unsung family-style places in central london...I recall JC Novelli raving about a place near his old restaurant in clerkenwell where the matriarch used to make all the sauces, etc herself. Are there any places like that left?

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  1. Before visiting London in September, I read tons of chowhound reviews and then mapped restaurants in the city near my daughter's college [UCL] and "points of interest" that were in my price range. Only one Italian restaurant made it on to my google map, and we enjoyed our meal there very much. The food was fresh and light, the quality of the oil was fine, and the house wine was very reasonable.

    The atmosphere was casual and bright. Not a place to impress a client with dinner, but a simple restaurant that serves basic and well-prepared dishes. I felt that we received a good value for our pounds. As I said before, my daughter and I enjoyed our meal and when I return to London in the Spring, I suspect that I will eat at Pollo Cafe again.

    Pollo Cafe
    20 Old Compton St
    Westminster, London, UK

    1. well, it's not unsung, and there's no matriarch, but I reckon the Carluccio chain serves pretty good everyday Italian. They do an excellent all-day breakfast dish too. And much of their deli food is excellent, such as the black olive paste, tapenade style.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jenny Sheridan

        I like the Carluccio chain as well. And am particularly pleased they've opened a branch near me in the frozen north (even it is at the mall). Had a recent post-shopping dinner of arancini, followed by penne alla luganica. Nice. Not spectacular - but very nice.

        1. re: Brit on a Trip

          Giusto, Blandford Street. Love it, but they have to do something about the ground floor because from the street, it just looks like an empty Italian Coffee Bar.

          Have the pork.

          1. re: Brit on a Trip

            Ditto on Carluccio's. I especially enjoy their pastas and cappuccinos.

        2. firstly, I LOVE your user name!!!

          I know that sounds sad, but Pizza Express, in my opinion, is a safe bet in UK. There's no Matriarch (it's a chain) but it's quite close to the real deal.

          Cafe Brera (Canary Wharf and I believe Soho too) is the closest thing to an italian cafe / espresso that I have encountered in the UK.

          no little osteria or taverna spring to mind though unfortunately.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kmh

            Luigi's off the Finchley Road (kinda behind Waitrose). Very cosy and great food.

          2. Spaccanapoli on Dean St (near Oxford). Whilst considering mostly a pizza place, the pasta and the meat dishes are excellent. Most of the patrons appear to be Italian. If you want something other than pizza, try the panuozzi, the pepper steak, the Naples egg pasta (long flat noodles, forget the name) with ragu and spiral pasta with corguettes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Will125

              Would second Spacca Napoli - awesome pizzas. Also a big fan of L'Artista in Golders Green, Caldesi in Marylebone, Sardo in Fitzrovia & Sardo Canale in Primrose Hill (although both are now much more expensive than they used to be - touching Locanda price levels), Latium in Fitzrovia (try the fish raviolis) and Oliveto in Westminster.

            2. I think this is the restaurant you're referring to...never heard of it myself! (La Rocchetta on Clerkenwell Green)
              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/wine/main....

              This is neither family-style nor central-London, but I like Locanda Ottomezzo in Kensington.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kristainlondon

                ottoemezzo is my local - its about a 100 yards from my house! the original deli/coffee shop is a very nice place to read the paper and get a snack.