Since the launch of Gloria Trattoria in March, much of Great Eastern Street has been occupied by a well-dressed queue, partly due to the restaurant’s no-bookings policy and partially down to the warm welcome the venue has received from restaurant critics and Instagram snappers alike. The venue was the first UK launch from Big Mamma Group, the team behind Pink Mamma, La Felicita and Popolare in Paris and Le Bellezza in Lille. Specialising in laid-back trattorias, the group offers high-concept spaces executed impeccably, menus filled with Italian-sourced ingredients and all-Italian staff, for that extra nod of authenticity. The two-floor 160-cover restaurant’s menu is vast and demands repeated visits: spaghetti carbonara for two is served in a whole wheel of parmesan; the ‘Ten Level Lasagne’ is as decadent as it sounds and Big Mamma’s signature dish la vera pasta al tartufo – fresh pappardelle, black Molise truffle, mascarpone and button mushrooms – is beautifully presented at the table in a vintage copper pan.
54-56 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QR
The River Café
Hammersmith’s The River Café was owned and run by chefs Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray until Gray's death in 2010; since then, Rogers has been the sole owner and still runs the restaurant today. Since opening in 1987, the Thames-side restaurant has gained a Michelin star, training up the likes of Theo Randall, Ed Baines of Randall & Aubin, April Bloomfield, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall along the way. Simple signature dishes include the likes of wild mushroom risotto; Dover sole and John Dory smoked in the restaurant's wood stove; lemon almond cake; and chocolate ‘Nemesis’ cake. It’s the perfect spot for special occasions.
Rainville Road, Hammersmith, W6 9HA
Since original founder Lina opened the doors to this revered Soho deli nearly 75 years ago, Lina Stores has become something of an institution, providing homesick Italians and in-the-know Londoners with the best ingredients Italy has to offer. Now it has its very own restaurant, using the fresh ingredients made at the Brewer Street deli. A no-bookings restaurant on vibrant Greek Street, the kitchen is headed up by Masha Rener, the deli’s in-house pasta chef and a restaurateur from Umbria, Italy. Together with her team, she creates spectacular dishes out of the simplest ingredients. Of the eight pasta dishes, we love the veal ravioli with marjoram and toasted breadcrumbs and the ricotta and herb gnudi with sage and brown butter. What’s more, it’s an affordable spot – pastas cost around £8.50 each, antipasti average around £4.50 and cocktails start at £6.
51 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4EH