paper moon

Buon appetito! The best Italian restaurants in London

05 Apr 2024 | |By Luxury London

From traditional trattorie specialising in Florentine fare to Michelin-starred menus serving up Sicilian specialities, this is where to find the best Italian food in London

Londoners have long enjoyed a love affair with Italian cuisine. Whether it’s cannoli from the local deli washed down with an espresso, antipasti with an Aperol spritz along the Thames, or a big bowl of pro-level penne at home, we just can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. Fortunately, London has no shortage of Italian restaurants to satiate our cravings. Here’s our guide on where to find the best, from Michelin-starred menus to much-loved neighbourhood Italians dishing out modest classics just like nonna used to make…

Paper Moon, Whitehall

Widely renowned as one of the best Italian brands in the world, Paper Moon was founded in Milan in 1977, where it quickly became embedded in the city’s culinary scene before launching sites spanning Portugal to Hong Kong. It opened its long-awaited London outpost just last year and has fast become one of the most favoured Italian restaurants in the capital, housed in the iconic Old War Offices as part of the huge Raffles London hotel. 

Wander through the grand foyer to find the discreet entrance to Paper Moon, which opens up to an intimate, low-lit restaurant oozing old-school charm, surrounded by olive trees and monochrome photographs of pop culture icons (Audrey Hepburn takes centre stage). The kitchen is helmed by executive chef Leonardo Pieri Buti who has compiled a brilliant Italian feasting menu, featuring antipasti such as the beef tartare with burrata and rich aubergine parmigiana before an array of tempting dishes that make up the primi and secondi offering. Sample fresh pasta such as the namesake pappardelle Paper Moon with bacon, tomato and cream, alongside grilled monkfish with Jerusalem artichoke cream and asparagus, and Milanese favourite: braised veal shank with saffron risotto. There’s plenty of pizzas too but make sure to save room for the selection of traditional Italian desserts such as tiramisu and the heavenly vanilla panna cotta. Allow the helpful, friendly staff to recommend cocktails and wine and you’re in for a brilliant night. 

The OWO, 7 Horse Guards Avenue, SW1A 2EX, visit

A Braccetto, Earl’s Court

Situated a stone’s throw from Earl’s Court station, friendly trattoria A Braccetto boasts a concise, expertly curated menu centred around wholesome Italian flavours. Taking its name from the Italian term for ‘arm-in-arm’ or ‘side-by-side,’ the communal dining counter takes centre stage inside the restaurant where the team serves standout dishes of pizza la marittima topped with Sicilian anchovies, red onion and sun-blushed tomatoes, bruschetta with courgette and crispy artichokes, and beef sirloin tagliata with a rocket and parmesan salad. Must-try desserts include the lime leaf panna cotta and tiramisu della casa, best enjoyed alongside a range of traditional Italian cocktails, Birra Moretti and a selection of organic wines.

 242 Earls Court Road, SW5 9AA, visit

Bocconcino, Soho and Mayfair

Having made a name for itself in Mayfair with its authentic cuisine, wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas, Bocconcino opened its second outpost on Soho’s Great Marlborough Street last autumn. Both outposts are full of Italian soul and serve aperitivo dishes, cicchetti (Venetian-inspired small dishes specially designed for sharing) – such as tagliatelle with black truffle or pistachio pesto and Sicilian red prawns returns – alongside signature wood-fired pizzas, fresh seafood and meats. Head to the Soho restaurant to also sample an array of innovative cocktails at the newly-opened speakeasy bar Sotto, where you can carry on the evening with a drink in hand to soundtracks by resident DJs. 


Petersham Nurseries, across London

Petersham Nurseries’ Richmond venue has long been a favourite for elegant, Italian-inspired dining in the capital and it didn’t take long for its two outposts in Covent Garden – The Petersham and La Goccia – to follow suit. All follow the slow-living and sustainable values synonymous with the Petersham brand, serving nose-to-tail Italian dishes with seasonal produce supplied by the family-run farm Haye Farm in Devon. The interiors draw inspiration from the Boglione family home with understated grandeur, Murano glassware and contemporary art, where guests can dine on the likes of sea bream carpaccio, saffron agnolotti, Tuscan fish stew and risotto cacio e pepe. 


Manteca, Shoreditch

Famous for its silky, homemade pasta and in-house salumeria, Manteca is the place to go if you’re after delicious Italian dishes without frills. Launched in 2021 and situated on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road, fan favourites such as the pig head fritti, wild-farmed focaccia and ‘nduja steamed mussels remain on menu, joined by more mouth-watering choices of pork and fennel ragu campanelle, venison chop with sausage and preserved blackberries, and ziti ragu genovese. Libations abound with an impressive menu of cocktails – many of which are crafted with Manteca’s own homemade amaro – which feature unique takes on classic negronis, martinis and palomas. 

49-51 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT, visit

Lavo, Marylebone

After decades of success in New York, Las Vegas, Singapore and Los Angeles, Lavo has garnered quite the loyal following in London since it opened last autumn. Menus are executed by head chef Stefano Lorenzini and feature seafood-inspired Italian dishes such as courgette with calamari, prawns and hot cherry peppers, yellowfin tuna tartare and a fresh salt-baked Mediterranean sea bass alongside wholegrain flour pizzas, and a decadent 20-layer chocolate cake. At the bar, head sommelier Fabrizio Canino has thoughtfully curated a wine list focused on the Mediterranean coastline, highlighting a large selection of wines from northern to southern Italy with a Vermentino from Bolgheri as well as a Barbera d’Alba from a small raising estate to be poured by the glass. 

The BoTree, 30 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2DR, visit

Cicchetti, Knightsbridge

Bringing a touch of Venetian bácaro culture to Knightsbridge, Cicchetti’s culinary offering is presented as a kaleidoscope of colourful sharing plates – perfect for lunch, dinner and everything in between. Situated opposite Harrods on Hans Road, the restaurant’s opulent decor is inspired by classical Venetian architecture, featuring polished wood and brass fittings that nod to the luxury yachts synonymous with the Floating City, while a large striking mural takes centre stage in the dining room. 

The restaurant’s wine list features some of the finest Italian vintages with small, family-run producers sitting alongside better-known wineries. Journey the length of the country’s vineyards with a crisp glass of wine from Piedmont and Veneto in the north, through to Campania and Sardinia in the south. Diners can expect perfect-for-picking crostini and stuzzichini (nibbles) – including prosciutto with fried dough sticks and burrata with Parma ham and black truffle – while signature mains include black truffle ravioli and black salt sea bass with herb and olive oil salmoriglio. Make sure to save room for dessert with the classic tiramisu or opt for the Torta Setteveli: homemade chocolate and hazelnut cake. Bellissimo. 

6 Hans Road, SW3 1RX0, visit

Norma, Fitzrovia

Set across three floors of a Victorian townhouse on Charlotte Street, Norma’s golden-hued, paisley-tiled interiors and decadent dining menu don’t disappoint. Inspired by the culinary fare of Sicily, head chef Giovann Attard likes to tackle traditional Italian dishes from a fresh angle by intertwining Moorish, north African influences into his cooking.

The seasonal menus change regularly, but highlights of the current offering includes courgette and prawn arancina, linguine with Cornish crab and wild mushroom gnocci. If you’d like to taste authentic Sicilian wine, the friendly sommeliers are on hand to talk you through their collection or you can pick from three types of negroni on the cocktail list. Our favourite is the warm negroni with cognac, Campari, angostura orange and double cream. 

8 Charlotte Street,  W1T 2LS, visit

Theo Randall at InterContinental Park Lane

If you’re looking for honest and fresh Italian fare, head to the five-star InterContinental Park Lane. Theo Randall first made a name for himself cooking at the River Café (is there a theme here?) in the 1990s. In 2006, he moved to the prestigious Park Lane address with his name above the door to make his mark on the world of Italian cuisine. Highlights include pan-fried Scottish scallops, squid fettucine, risotto with white and green asparagus and roasted guinea fowl stuffed with prosciutto di parma. Finish off with the Amalfi lemon tart and you'll have yourself an authentic Italian feast while in the heart of the capital. 

One Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY, visit

Bancone, across London

Boasting a Michelin Bib Gourmand and breathtaking interiors – Soho’s Golden Square outpost features an olive tree in the centre of its dining room – Bancone is the sort of knock-out neighbourhood Italian you would only expect to find in Italy. The focus here is on a small but mighty menu of freshly-made pasta drenched in decadent sauces. Choose from dishes including 'silk handkerchiefs' with walnut butter and confit egg yolk, braised ox cheek pappardelle with Barolo vinegar, bucatini cacio e pepe and smoked potato raviolo with winter truffle.

Covent Garden and Soho, visit

Bocca di Lupo, Soho

Serving stripped-down, authentic regional Italian cuisine, Bocca Di Lupo is a buzzing family-run trattoria in the centre of Soho. The sharing-style menu – characterised as a phrasebook of the 20 core dialects of Italian cuisine – changes twice daily to accommodate for seasonality, and everything that can be homemade, from pasta and bread to salame and gelato, is made in-house, with the rest of the restaurant’s produce sourced directly from Italy. Wines are meticulously selected and exclusively Italian (what else would you expect?), ranging from familiar favourites to little-known gems. For a memorable experience, take a seat at the chef’s counter and look on as the team works away in the restaurant’s open kitchen.

12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB, visit

Legare, Bermondsey

legare bermondsey

Situated in one of Shad Thames’s converted warehouses, Legare – by duo Jay Patel and Matt Beardmore – excels in unfussy service and bold flavours. Its British-sourced seasonal menu, with highlights including Dorset clams with sherry, lamb sweetbreads, cuttlefish tagliatelle and ricotta gnocchi puts the focus on high-quality ingredients cooked to perfection and paired with fine, natural wines.

31G Shad Thames, SE1 2YR, visit

Locanda Locatelli, Marylebone

locanda locatelli

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Giorgio and Plaxy Locatelli, Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli has been a favourite among London’s glitterati for well over three decades – even through a traumatic gas explosion in late 2014 that saw the restaurant close for four months. Intimate with a family-dining feel, the venue’s pared-back, stylish interior of dark wood floors and linen tablecloths speaks to the elegance and simplicity of its menu.

Stretching across the many culinary regions of Italy, the à la carte offering provides plenty of choice (including gluten-free and vegan dishes), from cuttlefish and pea salad, linguine with lobster, quail ragú risotto and chargrilled mackerel in herb crust with mixed salad. Make sure to sample one of the restaurant’s many fine wines, and don’t miss the sumptuous apricot and chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet. Delizioso.

8 Seymour Street, W1H 7JZ, visit

Murano, Mayfair

Named after a glass-making island in Venice, Angela Harnett’s Michelin-starred Murano has been dishing up the flavours of northern Italy in the heart of Mayfair since 2008. Influenced by her nonna’s cooking, Harnett’s dishes put a contemporary twist on classic Italian cuisine with the restaurant’s relaxed atmosphere putting the emphasis staunchly on fun rather than fine dining.

Menus are divided into four sections, with guests encouraged to choose anywhere between three and six courses. Recent highlights include roasted beetroot, pistachio and pickled blackberries, rabbit and Morteau sausage risotto, and roasted duck with white chicory and rhubarb. All expertly paired with fine wines from independent, sustainable producers worldwide.

20 Queen Street, W1J 5PP, visit

The River Café, Hammersmith

One of London’s best-loved Italian eateries, the River Café retains all of the informal charm that made it such a hit when duo Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray opened the iconic Thameside retreat 35 years ago. Menus, written daily, feature rustic, simple dishes bursting with authentic flavours that allow the high-quality, seasonal produce to speak for itself. Think delica pumpkin, buffalo ricotta and sage butter, wild sea bass roasted with olives and chargrilled marinated leg of lamb with borlotti di Lamon, salsa d’erbe and roast radicchio.

River Café’s indulgent chocolate nemesis is, thankfully, a year-round dessert menu mainstay alongside a selection of homemade gelati – we’ll take ours affogato. Order a round of fresh fruit bellinis or a bottle from the Michelin-starred restaurant’s regional wine list and laze on the terrace watching the world go by, or enjoy the bustle of the busy open kitchen with its imposing wood-fired pizza oven.

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA, visit

Trullo, Islington

trullo islington

The older, definitely more grown-up sibling of London Bridge pasta haven Padella, Trullo is a much-loved local gem. Renowned for its mainstay silky pappardelle with rich eight-hour beef shin ragu, the contemporary north London trattoria serves up seasonal, ingredient-led daily menus, featuring fish and meat cooked over the charcoal grill and fresh, hand-rolled pasta. Recent highlights include burrata with grilled Norfolk quail, confit lamb's tongue, tagliarini with cuttlefish ragu and Dorset lamb rump with purple sprouting broccoli.

300 - 302 St Paul’s Road, N1 2LH, visit

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