Everyone wants the good life—la dolce vita—the Italian way. Could that be why a wave of fabulous new Italian eateries have opened in London? Interestingly enough, however, none of the proprietors are from Italy! Don’t let that dissuade you: These three spots are worth checking out: Sette, at The Bvlgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, is from New York’s LDV Hospitality (of Scarpetta fame), Circolo Popolare is from France’s successful Big Mamma Group, and then there’s London’s own take on it, Gold Notting Hill, the latest venture from celeb-nightclub owner Nick House, whose assembled a crack team from London’s iconic River Cafe and Soho House.
Taking over the space in the Bvlgari Hotel that was formerly an Rivea, by Alain Ducasse, New York’s LDV Hospitality, have created an entirely new vibe and concept with Sette, combining chic decor and delicious Italian food with a sexy nightclub beneath, Nolita Social, which has live music from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. and then DJs until 1 a.m. But don’t let the option to party distract you, the food at Sette, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, is more than enough of a reason to go. Expect expert interpretations of classical favorites—crisp zucchini fritti, handmade pasta with short rib or, their specialty, a perfectly executed spaghetti with tomato and basil, followed by roast chicken, fish or steak. We couldn’t find fault in any of the dishes we sampled and, in fact, couldn’t stop raving about everything we tried. Incredibly, being in the heart of Knightsbridge, they offer a two- or three-course set lunch for £23 or £29, and a four-course Sunday lunch for £30; both menus are fantastic and unbelievably well-priced for the quality of the food and the uber-high-end location in London (two blocks from Harrods and Hyde Park.) There’s also a full a la carte menu, and let’s not forget, the nightclub below.
This vibrant new Italian eatery in Marylebone has to be one of London’s most Instagrammed restaurants of 2019—the fun, colorful, quirky decor, the 20,000 liquor bottles lining the walls along with framed vintage Italian prints and a forest of wisteria hanging from the ceiling. Apparently this is just the right amount of OTT. Despite a no-bookings policy for dinner (unless you are a group of 12), the food is actually worth waiting for at Circolo Popolare. This is the second restaurant in London for Big Mamma Group, who basically killed it last year with the opening of Gloria in Shoreditch, another Instagram-friendly spot famous for a 10-layer lasagne and a mile-high lemon meringue pie, both of which are available at Circolo. Open for breakfast through dinner, the food is really great versions of your Italian favorites. The chefs and staff are all from Naples, and you can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas, pastas or desserts. Good to know: The mile-high lemon is as good as it looks, and even the gelato is made in-house.
Gold Notting Hill
With ex-River Cafe chef Theo Hill in charge of the food, this is yet another place where you are guaranteed a great Italian meal, but the setting and scene is equally worth the visit to Gold, a three-story restaurant in a former pub on Portobello Road in the heart of Notting Hill. As you enter, there’s a buzzy bar serving up swish cocktails, surrounded by wooden tables and earth-toned furnishings; a bit further along, there’s an internal garden space with a retractable roof (Top tip: This is where you want to sit!). There’s two further floors with a mix of private dining and quieter dining spaces. The menu is an eclectic mix of modern European dishes with a seasonal bent (think: broad bean salad and wood-roasted purple potatoes, braised artichokes with wild garlic, Cornish chicken thighs with ‘nduja, or skirt steak with salsa verde). Desserts are earthy and delicious, too; don’t miss anything baked in the wood oven.