For centuries London has been a popular city for people from all over the world to settle and at the current count there are over 200,000 Italian nationals registered as residents in London. We know from historical records however that the people of Italy have been emigrating to London from as early as the 19th century however, and there are little slices of Italian influence evident all across the city from the restaurants and gelaterias to the names of some of the most well known parts of London itself.
Whether you are a fan of Italian food and looking for the best restaurants in the city or you simply want to enjoy a little bit of the Italian culture, we have put together a list of real treats for you to choose from:-
There are hundreds of restaurants which bear some form of Italian influence in London so knowing where to head if you want a truly authentic Italian dish can be difficult. Although chain restaurants are often more easily recognisable and prominent in touristy areas, try to avoid these if you can and instead head to one of the independent restaurants open in the city. Some of the best Italian restaurants include the likes of:-
- TortelliniCup: an excellent option if you want Italian food to go, TortelliniCup have a kiosk in the O2 shopping centre and they offer classic Italian dishes such as tortellini, gramigna and vanilla balls to take away.
- Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen: This is a real must if you want your restaurant environment to be cosy and intimate and your Italian food to be cooked straight from the heart. All food served here is freshly made to order and is 100% authentic Italian cuisine. If you are staying at the Montcalm hotel Chiswell Street then you haven’t got too far to travel either, just half an hour by public transport.
- Fat Lorenzo’s Kitchen & Bar: Located in Fiztrovia, Fat Lorenzo’s is all about the Italian influenced food served in a no-frills environment. This is less about the grandeur and more about the feeling of a good home cooked meal. They serve a whole range of dishes from breakfast pancakes to ice cream cocktails, and just about everything else in between.
Gelato may simply be the word for ice cream in Italian but it’s actually so much more than that too. Once you have tasted true Italian gelato you will be truly spoiled for anything else and that’s why you need to only head to one of the best gelaterias in the city if you have a hankering for the real article.
- Gelatorino: Located in a gorgeous café near to the Royal Opera House, the gelato here is freshly churned every single day and is kept and served in the traditional Italian manner. Everything about Gelatorino is old-school and it works absolutely fine for this brilliant gelateria; from the traditional method to the traditional flavours, this café gets it spot on, every time.
- Morelli’s: Morelli’s is a family business and has been run by the same family for four generations. It’s even claimed that Mario Morelli (great-grandfather) brough the cappuccino to Britain although we don’t know that there is any hard-evidence of this. Gelato is served in cones to go or you can eat in if you order one of their delightful sundaes; think lashings of whipped cream, swizzle sticks and more wafer than you can ever hope to eat.
- Lick: this Soho based gelateria offers a heady selection of gelato and sorbet served in cones and tubs. Ingredients are 100% fresh, and 100% authentic with traditional Sicilian flavours coming through. All orders are made to go but Soho is such a vibrant area that you can grab your gelato and wander the streets enjoying and soaking up your eclectic surroundings.
If you are staying at the Montcalm at the Brewery and heading into Central London then find an excuse to visit Kensington Gardens and the Italian Gardens contained therein. This 150 year old ornamental garden was created as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria and the layout of the Italian Gardens here is very reminiscent of the gardens Prince Albert himself created at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The gardens consist of four main water basins, each with central rosettes carved from Carrara marble and Portland stone. The gardens are full of elaborately and intricately carved pieces from the dolphin to the Swan’s breast. The Italian Gardens are considered to be a Grade II listed site and have actually also been used in a number of popular movies including Wimbledon and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Little Venice is an area in North London which is named because of its connection to London’s waterway system, much like the real Venice is surrounded by a complex system of canals, so Little Venice is home to a number of beautiful canals and waterways. The hub of Little Venice is considered to be the point where the Grand Union and Regent’s canals meet and a lovely neighbourhood with quaint waterside cafes, traditional inns and lovely restaurants has cropped up here. You can hire your own canal barge if you want to try your hand at navigating the waters, follow Regent’s Canal as it leads you through North London to the Docklands, passing the likes of Regent’s Park, ZSL London Zoo and Camden Town, or simply soak up the picturesque and peaceful atmosphere which can be found here. Little Venice is also the place to head if you want to discover some independent or fringe theatre and boasts a number of popular venues including the Canal Café Theatre and Sheldon Square’s amphitheatre. Although perhaps this area is less Italian-inspired than you might hope, if the weather is nice you might even be able to convince yourself that you are indeed cruising up the canal in Venice and not in the heart of London.