While the borders are opening up again, many of us are thinking better of going abroad and staying put this summer. If you’ve shelved your dream of an Italian getaway, here’s our guide to recreating it – weather-permitting – right here in London:
When it comes to tucking into a good Italian meal, Londoners have been spoilt for choice for years. As long as you know where to go, that is. So which restaurants deliver the goods?
Sartoria, a suitably-stylish eatery on Savile Row, has had critics raving for years now. Padella, by Borough Market, is widely considered to be one of the best pasta joints in town (not to mention one of the most affordable). And Soho’s Bocca di Lupo – literally ‘the mouth of the wolf’ – has won praise for its artisan twist on dishes from all over the country.
If you’re in the mood for something more laid-back, try Trullo, a rustic treat just off Upper Street in Islington. Or if you just want a slice of good honest greasy pizza, look no further than Pizza Pilgrims – one of the best pizza joints in an extremely crowded market. As well as having several restaurants, they also deliver across the capital.
If you’d been planning a romantic getaway in the city of canals, you can at least make do with a visit to London’s own Little Venice. While it might not match the original for sunshine, it does at least offer the rare chance to have a relaxing waterside drink in London – and a beautiful walk too.
For that authentic Italian feel, take an afternoon stroll through Clerkenwell’s Little Italy district. It’s been home to Italian migrants since the early 19th century, and has hosted everything from volunteer hospitals to authentic mobster funerals.
Follow the delicious scents of pecorino and parma ham and you’re certain to find Terroni, its most loved – and reportedly London’s oldest – delicatessen. At the heart of the neighbourhood lies St Peter’s church, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the capital.
If you want a day to remember, make a note to come back in July when the community holds its annual processione. Originally given permission in 1880, it was the first outdoor Catholic celebration allowed in London for centuries. Now it’s become one of the best street festivals in central London.
The National Gallery’s major exhibition of Titian, the legendary renaissance painter, was cut cruelly short by lockdown. But the gallery and the exhibition have now reopened – Titian: Love, Desire, Death – is the first time that the artist’s six ‘poesie’ paintings, commissioned by a 16th century Spanish royal, have been shown in the same place for over four centuries.
Distinguishing the best aperitivo spots from the best restaurants might seem a needless distinction to some. And while we don’t doubt that the restaurants already mentioned can pour a wonderful brachetto, the fact remains that there are a handful of additional spots known to excel when it comes to that early evening drink.
Bar Termini in Soho nails that 1950s Italian vibe with dusky marble decor and a solid choice of four negronis (ranging from the rose petal infused rosato to the punchier – and more traditional – robusto). Nearby Mele e Pere – Italian for apples and pears – is famous for its homemade vermouth. And when it comes to getting the perfect glass of prosecco, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat Cecconi’s in Mayfair.
If you’re looking to break with tradition entirely, try Lino – a new spot by St Paul’s which reimagines the aperitivo experience for those with a more sour palette. Admittedly you wouldn’t expect to find their sauerkraut and cheddar croquettes back in the old country.
If the sun does come out, you can be sure to make the most of it with a visit to one of London’s legendary gelato spots.
Oddono’s – the brainchild of Christian Oddono – has recently expanded to a host of new locations, having had Londoners coming back to its original Kensington base for over 15 years. Compared to Camden’s Marine Ices though, Odonno’s remains a veritable newcomer; this north London institution has been serving the cold stuff for almost a century.
If you like your gelato gooey and thick, then you’ll be delighted by the offerings at Gelupo in Soho. The menu changes daily, but expect to find a full spread of flavours covering everything from casual classics to boutique choices. For the remainder of March, they’re also selling in-season black truffle – from France, though, mind you.