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London - Which is the best Italian Restaurant? No budget

aliak May 21, 2008 08:43 AM

Can anyone suugest London's best Italian restaurant. Preferably fine dining. Thanks

  1. therubyslippers May 29, 2008 03:47 AM

    Hmm - I wouldn't 100% recommend LL - had a blow-out there last year, with high hopes, but left feeling a bit shortchanged - amazing langoustine starter, disappointing carne. Love the River Cafe, especially on a sunny day - much more relaxed and just er, Italian-feeling. But as someone's said, it's shut til August 2008. Which doesn't really help you.

    If I was going to book somewhere today, that I hadn't tried before, I'd go for Theo Randall.

    1 Reply
    1. re: therubyslippers
      aliak May 30, 2008 02:54 AM

      Thanks for the recommendations everyone...they have been very informative.
      Still not certain where to pick...I will let you know the outcome.

      The reservation would be for August, by which time, River Cafe should have reopened.

    2. a
      aliak May 27, 2008 05:52 AM

      Thanks for all the replies so far!
      It looks like either LL or Zafferano's will probably get the nod....However, although I have read some excellent reviews of Assaggi, no one has brought it up. Has anyone dined here?

      1 Reply
      1. re: aliak
        NYLONDave May 27, 2008 09:59 AM

        I don't put Assaggi in the same group as LL or Zaff's. Its not as ambitous food wise. I live right down the road and have only been a few times as the times I've went I was not overly impressed with the food. Its a very ammicable place and I can see how its a popular spot for regulars. I just wouldn't go out of my way for Assaggi.

      2. j
        JessR May 27, 2008 02:18 AM

        I haven't eaten there so can't recommend but it might be worth looking into Cipriani?

        I like Cecconi's but it's less formal than some.

        Have only eaten dessert at Locanda Locatelli, but it was excellent.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JessR
          DietStartsTomorrow May 27, 2008 04:55 AM

          I've been to ciprani twice and from my experience the food was pretty poor - actually quite remarkably bad - considering the prices they charge. It's known as a people-watching place, not a place to go for food

        2. h
          Harters May 23, 2008 04:57 AM

          I'd have thought that Locatelli was well regarded as "best". However, several attempts to eat there have consistently failed. Whenever we are planning to travel to London, even for an overnighter, they havnt been able to accommodate us. When they do have availability, we've been unable to get train and hotel at anything like affordable prices so making a special trip impossible..

          Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they are one of those irritating places that allow you to book only 30 days in advance. We've more or less given up trying. As such, if in London and wanting Italian, we continue to go to Passione.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Harters
            NYLONDave May 23, 2008 07:53 AM

            You're spot on re the 30 day advance notice. I think it's a rolling 4 weeks.

            Best bet is to call exactly 4 weeks before the day you're looking for (maybe a bit longer) and cross your fingers. I've had much more success getting tables for lunch then for dinner.

            Just had a long "business" lunch there with friends 2 weeks ago. Everything was faultless and the majority of food was exquisite. The carne was the only course that let the meal down. The porkchop was overcooked, and the rest were not as memorable as the antipasti, pasta, and dolci courses. They did compensate us for the pork by not charging us for our dessert wine.

            I prefer the vibe (ambience) of Locatteli to Zafferano. Though based on a few meals at each the the food is on par with each other.


            1. re: NYLONDave
              pecandanish May 26, 2008 12:24 PM

              theo randall at the intercontinental. ex-head chef of the river cafe. very simple, verry very good

              1. re: pecandanish
                greedygirl May 27, 2008 03:04 AM

                Is that the new one which has been getting very good reviews?

                1. re: greedygirl
                  Simon Majumdar May 27, 2008 04:11 AM

                  Theo Randall's has been going for a little over a year and, on my two visits so far has been excellent.

                  I would put that and Locatelli as my two favourite high end Italian places in London with perhaps LL just edging out TR

                  1. re: Simon Majumdar
                    greedygirl May 27, 2008 05:26 AM

                    I'm thinking of Apsleys at The Lanesborough, which has just opened and was compared to Theo Randall in the reviews, which have been mixed.


          2. mnosyne May 22, 2008 10:21 AM

            On our visit, we enjoyed Zafferano very much. Il Convivio had good food, but I felt it was really stuffy. Caraffini was right across the street from our apartment, and we went there several times with enjoyable results. Sal e Pepe was good and fun. I wish we had been able to go to Locatelli--next time for sure!

            1. Robin Joy May 21, 2008 11:57 PM

              Not fine dining, but both Carrafini and Como Lario, both near Sloane Sq., are great places to spend a couple of hours. Booking essential.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Robin Joy
                DietStartsTomorrow May 22, 2008 02:32 AM

                Getting a reservation at Locanda Locatelli IS difficult. You need to start ringing at least six weeks in advance if you are not a regular. I finally got a table, though, and it was definitely worth the wait, though. The whole experience was pretty memorable. The restaurant was by no means full and I've always wondered if it wouldn't have been a better idea just to wander in off the street or try an get a booking via the concierge of the hotel it is attached to

                1. re: DietStartsTomorrow
                  aliak May 22, 2008 02:50 AM

                  The dinner will be in August when a friend is visiting from NYC, so reservations shouldn't be an issue.
                  The River Cafe will be open again then too.
                  Thanks for the suggestions Robin, but does the quality of the ingredients / cooking technique / presentation / TASTE compare to the other restaurants of higher 'repute' .

                  1. re: aliak
                    Robin Joy May 22, 2008 03:43 AM

                    Well, there are plenty of high end places: Scalini, Cecconi's, San Lorenzo,
                    Sal e Pepe, Zafferano. If someone asked me to any of these I'd be very pleased. They all serve impeccable food in my experience.

                    1. re: aliak
                      t_g May 23, 2008 03:15 AM

                      i would still go for the river cafe, esp in august. if you can get a table outside in the middle of summer it's pretty hard to be anywhere better.

                2. a
                  aliputtick May 21, 2008 09:01 AM

                  It's amazing how many rubbish, disappointing italian restaurants there are in London. You often end up eating something and thinking you could have done better yourself.

                  How about Locanda Locatelli (www.locandalocatelli.com)? It serves beautiful, fairly-traditional food, in a fine dining atmosphere, and has had great reviews from, amongst others, celebrity critics such as Matthew Norman and AA Gill.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: aliputtick
                    aliak May 21, 2008 09:06 AM

                    Cheers for the suggestion.
                    I have done a little research and it seems Locanda Locatelli, Zafferano and Assaggi are the stand out options.
                    What's the concensus and has anyone any experience/indepth knowledge regarding these?

                    1. re: aliak
                      PhilD May 21, 2008 11:36 AM

                      Andy Hayler on his blog gives the nod to Zafferano over Locatelli http://www.andyhayler.com/default.asp. You may find it easier to get into Zafferano as I heard Locatelli is notoriouslt difficult.

                      Another one to consider is the River Cafe - been around aong time but still a strong reputation.

                      1. re: PhilD
                        t_g May 22, 2008 01:47 AM

                        yeah i'd say that river cafe is best but it's closed at the moment so...

                      2. re: aliak
                        thebigblackpudding Jun 3, 2008 12:35 PM

                        Personally I favour Zafferano over the others (and unlike Locatelli you are more likely to get a table) though all are quite superb in their own way. Both Zafferano and Assaggi are more 'authentic' in their approach to the restaurant and their food but Locatelli beats them on their stunning desserts! At the right time of year Zafferano serve a spectacularly simple but beautiful dish of tagliatelle with truffle the like of which you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere!

                        Another 'authentic' Italian restaurant worthy of mention is Verbanella in Blandford St. (just off Baker St) which is a favourite lunchtime haunt of mine. Certainly not in the league of those mentioned above but if you want something truly Italian at good value then it's worth stopping by.

                        I think I mentioned this in once in a post on my blog www.thebigblackpudding.blogspot.com - come and visit us there sometime.

                        1. re: thebigblackpudding
                          zuriga1 Jun 3, 2008 10:47 PM

                          I noticed on your blog, that you are, like me, a big fan of The French Table. It's a bit off topic, but do you have any Italian favorites down near me in Surrey? I'm in a rush or would have begun another thread.

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