Best Italian Restaurants 2018 | olivemagazine

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Napoli Centro, Sheffield

In this 16-seater, Riccardo Castagno is keen to create the vibe of those small, buzzy neighbourhood pizzerias that proliferate in Naples. Students and academics from the nearby university, like Sheffield foodies, love Riccardo’s light and elastic, 48-hour-proved pizza bases, quickly cooked at 450C and topped with sweet, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, Amalfi anchovies or imported cured meats. Toppings range from seasonal specials such as Zucca: fior di latte mozzarella, ’nduja and gorgonzola dolce on a butternut squash base; to its knock-out Salsiccia pizza, with fennel sausage, chilli, smoked provola cheese and friarielli, the leafy, broccoli-related green.

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A white pizza with a 48-hour-proved pizza base

Buyers Club, Liverpool

This cool courtyard canteen is a fantastic place to nurse a negroni in the sun or, on colder days, hunker down with one of chef Kyle Jones’s fresh pasta dishes, such as ’nduja pappardelle or wild mushroom tagliatelle. Flavours sing with a rare clarity at Buyers Club, not just in its pastas. Its cacio e pepe butter beans are legendary and its tiramisu – the recipe brought to the restaurant by Sicilian chef, Patrizia Asaro – is getting “rave reviews” says reservations manager, Ella Stephenson. “Patrizia prefers a more creamy, full mascarpone base.”

Mushroom Tagliolini on a white plate

Bacareto, Cardiff

Inspired by living in Venice during its art biennale, the owners of Cardiff art space and skate park Spit & Sawdust launched this homage to Venetian bacari: the small, back-street bars where cicchetti snacks flow alongside gluggable wines and zingy spritz cocktails. However, Bacareto is no slavish recreation of the form. Its menu is at least 50% vegan and includes some modish Britalian snacks, such as leek and cheddar arancini with burnt leek salt. Toppings on chef Owen Bowley’s crostini counter range from the classic Venetian baccalà mantecato (house-cured salt fish whipped with olive oil) to new wavers such as cashew ricotta with pickled carrot, or blue cheese, honey and walnut on rye.

Celentano’s, Glasgow

Dean and Anna Parker love Italy. Dean cooked in Campania prior to opening London’s lauded Sorella, and their honeymoon consisted of a foodie road trip from Italy’s meaty, buttery northern provinces, via 2kg Fiorentina steaks in Montepulciano, to the country’s sun-ripened, abundant south. The couple find Italian food’s local, seasonable, sustainable nature and its emphasis on communal dining inspirational. Sharing is encouraged across Celentano’s potentially five-course menu (antipasti, primi, secondi, etc). “We wanted to celebrate Italian family feasts,” says Dean. Do not miss the agnolotti pasta filled with vegetables and ricotta, nor Dean’s next-level cold-brew affogato with malted barley gelato, dark chocolate mousse and chocolate rye crumb.

The interior at Celentano’s, Glasgow, featuring

Spaghetti Junction, York

With pop-up Spaghetti Junction, Alessandro Venturi is determined to give Britain a true taste of his native Rome, in plates of gricia, amatriciana or carbonara. “Emblematic of Roman cuisine – they exemplify the Italian philosophy of less is more, emphasising the creation of distinctive flavours from a few high-quality ingredients.” Cacio e pepe particularly is, for Alessandro, “a magical dish” that “relies on creating a sauce with just pecorino, black pepper and pasta water for a glossy finish”. Rome-based food writer, Rachel Roddy, who has worked and cooked with Alessandro, calls him: “One of the best Roman cooks I know, traditional and innovative, skilled, always learning.”


A pair of hands holding strands of spaghetti

Vinny’s, Newcastle

Nick Grieves previously worked at the River Café and his cooking at restaurant, The Patricia, reflects that influence. Dishes are simple, produce-led and elegant. Monthly pop-up, Vinny’s (held at another of Nick’s restaurants, Ophelia) is a far brasher, gutsier affair, which channels Nick’s love of New York’s so-called ‘red sauce’ Italian restaurants. Expect meatballs, a riff on caesar salad with a vitello tonnato-style tuna dressing and XL sides of veal parmigiana or chicken saltimbocca. Pasta dishes include linguine with clams and roasted garlic (“one that screams NYC”, says Nick), and a carbonara-adjacent plate of silky, handmade fettuccine with pancetta, pecorino and egg yolk. As a final flourish, a little caramelised buttermilk whey and butter is mixed through the fettuccine to create in the sauce a “perfect balance – cheesy, rich and acidic”.


Tipo, Edinburgh

In Edinburgh’s Aizle and Noto, chef Stuart Ralston and front-of-house ace Jade Johnston have created some of the city’s most exciting modern restaurants – contemporary spaces with pin-sharp cooking. A soothing mixture of natural materials and neutral tones, Tipo (named after the 00 pasta flour) is their Italian excursion, in sharing plates of ricotta gnudi in shellfish bisque or pappardelle with Scottish crab, chilli and parsley. Exceptional ingredients are paired with simplicity, restraint and, at times, ingenious creativity. Tipo’s savoury zeppole (mini doughnuts) is, explains chef de partie Aaron Mosedale, “a version you can’t really find anywhere else, tossed in paprika and dusted in pecorino”.

A plate of zeppole (mini doughnuts), tossed in paprika and dusted in pecorino

Cotto, Bristol

Across several much-loved Bristol restaurants, including their eponymous flagship, the Bianchi family is an energetic proponent of modern Italian food. Cotto is steeped in tradition: old family recipes, cooking research in Padova, sourcing trips to storied Tuscan butchers. But it is colourfully innovative, too – for example, in its artichoke fritti with mint and hot honey or its Loco carbonara. Originally a cult hit at a previous Bianchi restaurant, Pasta Loco, a recently revived carbonara – which takes several days to make – arrives as a plate of saucy spaghetti and fennel sausage, topped with a slab of slow-cooked, crispy pork belly and a pancetta- wrapped poached egg.

Tropea, Birmingham

Named after a coastal Calabrian town, this hip Harborne restaurant takes inspiration from across Italy, while putting its own contemporary spin on that source material. “In a culinary sense, each region is almost independent. It’s fascinating,” says co-owner Ben Robinson-Young. Chef Kasia Piątkowska’s sharing plates menu might run from bombolone doughnuts filled with gorgonzola, pickled walnuts and red onion jam, to lightly battered, fried courgette flowers stuffed, not with ricotta, but goat’s cheese, mint and lemon juice, then dressed with local honey. Pappardelle is a permanent fixture, the ragu for these thick ribbons of egg pasta changing with the seasons. “My favourite is a rabbit ragu braised with spring vegetables and white wine,” says Kasia.

The interior at Italian restaurant Tropea, including mismatched seats and low hanging light bulbs

Semola, Hove

At Semola – a small, colourful 22-seat restaurant with a big reputation – freshness is a guiding principle. Every day co-owner Roberto Lonati makes various pastas, including specials such as orecchiette or Ligurian trofie. For Semola’s pastasciutta dishes (pastas with sauce), chef Luca Cuminetti dresses those pastas with sauces that are almost all cooked to order. Only two sauces, including Luca’s bolognese, demand a different approach of patient slow-cooking over several hours. As well as asciutta and baked pasta dishes, such as a regularly changing vegetarian lasagne (say, chestnut, mushroom and mozzarella), Semola also serves pizza, risottos and Italian mains, similarly full of vivid flavours.


La Locanda, Lancashire

Maurizio Bocchi and the Ribble Valley were made for one another. The area has a local, seasonal food culture to rival Italy’s, and many incredible suppliers feed into the chef’s dishes at this cosy, stylish cottage restaurant. Spring may bring ravioli with ricotta and foraged wild garlic. Or Sardinian baked lamb, raised in nearby Padiham, with fava beans and creamy potato croquette. Maurizio talks of creating “the perfect marriage between Italian cuisine and Lancashire ingredients. The land has a lot to offer. It’s not just the beautiful farms but what you can find in nature. For me, spring is synonymous with wild garlic, fresh cheeses and lamb”.

Maurizio Bocchi - La Locanda Italian Chef - Pasta Making

Coppi, Belfast

Located in St Anne’s Square in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, Coppi takes its inspiration from all regions of Italy, but when it comes to ingredients the kitchen looks to producers in Northern Ireland. “We work closely with local suppliers including award-winning farmer Peter Hannan – two of our signature dishes are Peter’s Tuscan spiced pork and fennel sausage cichetti and a steak florentine of salt-aged beef,” says Coppi’s Tony O’Neill.

“The pasta we serve is freshly made daily in our production kitchen and the duck ragu, porcini mushroom ravioli and truffle has been on the menu from day one, along with our cichetti of feta fritters with truffled honey. I think there could be a riot if we tried to take them off the menu.”

Coppi, Belfast

Cin Cin, Brighton

With just 20 covers at a counter looking into an open kitchen and bar in Brighton’s North Laine, Cin Cin (‘cheers!’ in Italian) is an intimate, casual dining experience and the food is truly authentic.

“I’m simply trying to give customers the food I was lucky enough to grow up with,” says owner David Toscano, who started the business as a pop-up serving food and drink from a converted 1970s Fiat campervan.

“My grandparents migrated from Calabria in southern Italy to Australia in the 1950s,” says David. “And the food we offer is an updated homage to the flavour combinations I enjoyed as a kid.” Sicilian-style dishes on offer include tagliatelle with sardines, saffron and pickled sultanas, and handkerchief-shaped fazzoletti pasta served with grey mullet, sprouting broccoli and stracciatella cheese.

Here are our favourite places to eat and drink in Brighton.

Cin Cin, Brighton

Pasta Ripiena, Bristol

Pasta Ripiena is the second opening in two years from Bristol cousins Dominic Borel and Ben Harvey, who have built up a considerable following in their city since launching the original Pasta Loco.

At the smaller Pasta Ripiena, Ben’s brother Joe and his team change the menu every fortnight, developing new dishes and testing the elements of each one for a week before putting them on the menu.

To keep things seasonal, the restaurant gets two weekly deliveries from the Milan fruit and vegetable market. This produce ends up in a range of dishes, particularly stuffed pasta, which is made on site every day. Typical main courses include tortellini of salt marsh lamb, artichoke barigoule, pancetta and ricotta salata, and ravioli of beef shin ragu, crispy coppa, chard and pedro ximénez.

Dominic says: “You’ll find Joe rolling five different styles of stuffed pasta between the end of lunch service and dinner – the PX sherry jus on the beef ragu is sticky, sweet, rich and just plain naughty!”

Pasta Ripiena is currently closed due to the pandemic, but the team are still serving their pasta at Breaking Bread.

Zucco, Leeds

Nonna’s polpette and spaghetti; rabbit, pancetta, white wine and potatoes; and almond and raspberry polenta cake – these are just three reasons why locals flock to Zucco, tucked away in one of the leafier suburbs of Leeds.

Run by brothers Rosario and Michael Leggiero, it’s a cool and contemporary place with black and white floor tiles, white subway wall tiles and a beaten tin ceiling.

And if that look sounds slightly familiar to fans of a certain well-known chain, then it won’t come as too much of a surprise that Michael was manager at Polpo’s short-lived restaurant at Leeds Harvey Nichols.

Looking for independents in Leeds? Here are our favourite foodie spots.

Zucco, Leeds

Eusebi Deli, Glasgow

What started as an Italian grocer shop in Glasgow’s East End back in 1975 has grown and expanded with a restaurant/deli in the city’s West End showcasing regional, seasonal dishes, such as burrata, pea gazpacho and vignarola salad.

Eusebi goes to great lengths to source the very best ingredients – tomatoes and herbs from Calabria, flour from Rome, cured meats from Umbria. The pasta is made from scratch daily in the restaurant’s ‘pasta laboratory’ using different flours, including chickpea, chestnut and grano arso (burnt grain).

“We wanted to take the customer out of their comfort zone,” says Giovanna Eusebi. “Italy is more than carbonara and spag bol. Our food is inspired by our Italian grandparents who farmed from land to table.

Our concept was to slow things down and return to our heritage. Food made in factories and sold under the guise of ‘artisan’ just won’t wash anymore. People don’t want watered-down versions of authentic, they want the real deal.”

Get Eusebi Deli’s burrata, pea gazpacho and vignarola salad recipe.

Eusebio Deli, Glasgow

Bianchis, Bristol

A painted Bell’s Diner & Bar Rooms sign still exists above the door at this famed Montpelier restaurant site, taken on by Dominic Borel and Ben Harvey to turn into a traditional Italian trattoria.

Interiors include bottle-green banquettes and wood panelling, crisp white tablecloths, and a modern geometric print in the bar – and there’s a mix of bookable tables and those reserved for walk-ins. There’s a suitably grown-up nod to the restaurant’s Italian roots right from the off, with a bitter aperitivo list (negronis, Aperol and Campari spritzes, vermouth and tonics), and plenty of Italian wines, but there are also a few curveballs to look out for – including an Essex pinot blanc, an Austrian orange wine and a trendy Greek red.

When it comes to the food, the team goes further than the pasta-centric offerings at its other sites (Pasta Loco and Pasta Ripiena). The menu – divided into cured, raw, antipasti, primi (showcasing their pasta-making skills) and secondi sections – makes the most of local West Country producers: think braised quail with pancetta, coco blanc, turnip and girolle agrodolce; and roast hake with Dorset clams and baby fennel. The kitchen is headed up by Pegs Quinn, who boasts the River Café on his CV.

A table with white table cloth and wine glasses on

Rudy’s, Manchester

Known as Little Italy, the Ancoats area of Manchester has a long food tradition stretching back to the Victorian era when thousands of Italian immigrants settled there, many of them starting their own ice-cream businesses.

Relocating to Ancoats from London, Jim Morgan and girlfriend Kate Wilson opened Rudy’s in 2015, with the simple idea of bringing high-quality Neapolitan pizza to Manchester in a relaxed, casual space that was affordable and accessible to all.

Named after the couple’s dog, Rudy’s now serves a dozen pizzas, from a sub-£5 marinara (tomato, garlic, oregano, basil and extra-virgin olive oil) to the romagnola (a margherita dressed with rocket, prosciutto crudo and parmesan). Says Jim: “What makes our pizzas stand out are two of the things that really stand out when you eat pizza in Naples – size and cost. Ours are big (14in), just like in Naples, but most UK pizzerias seem to reduce what is the traditional size found in Naples, possibly as a cost- cutting exercise.

We’re also much cheaper in comparison to most pizzerias, even though we use the best ingredients we can lay our hands on.”

Check out our other Manchester recommendations.

Rudy's, Manchester

Bottega Caruso, Margate

Harry Ryder and his Italian wife Simona met when they worked in London restaurants, but it wasn’t until Harry visited Simona’s family in Campania that he realised the Italian food he had tasted in the UK wasn’t anything like the real thing.

“I tried her family’s tomato sauce, the pasta, the cheeses, wines and oil – I’d never tasted anything like it. I joked that we should start bringing it back to the UK, and that’s what we’ve done with Bottega Caruso.”

This small Italian kitchen and shop started out as a pop-up stall at The Goods Shed in Canterbury, selling fresh pasta and Simona’s family sauces. The duo then started doing supper clubs at other people’s homes, before getting a permanent space in Margate and opening in January 2018.

Popular dishes on the menu include verdura e fagioli – a slow-cooked stew of greens, organic beans and smoked chilli – and handmade cavatelli pasta with a meaty Neapolitan ragu comprising slow-cooked beef shin, top rib, pork belly, pork rump, fennel sausages, meatballs and Simona’s family tomato sauce.

“Our cooking is inspired by my grandparents’ cuisine,” says Simona. “It’s peasant food, simple but made with good ingredients, plenty of time and love.”

Bottega Caruso, which is open four days a week so that Harry and Simona can spend time with their young son, also hosts a monthly familystyle supper club where guests eat several sharing courses together.

Harry says: “A lot of the dishes lend themselves to this style of eating. People love it – rather than everyone eating something different, you can eat like a family, course after course. That’s how we want our restaurant to be; like you’re coming to our home to eat with us.”

Find the best places to eat and drink in Margate.

Stew at Bottega Caruso, Margate

Wolf Street Food, various locations

What started out in Leeds two years ago has spread south, with Wolf sites now in Reading, London, Manchester and Nottingham . It’s on-the-go Italian street food made using predominantly British ingredients, including pasta bowls, salads and piadas (founder Tim Entwistle describes the latter as being “like Italian burritos”).

“We use a piadina flatbread, which is heated on our hot stone, brushed with olive oil and garlic, then filled with marinated meats such as lemon chicken or spicy Italian sausage.”

The twist is that the piadas are then stuffed with some spaghettini, drizzled with hot sauce or freshly made pesto and finished with fresh vegetables, then wrapped up like a burrito.

“Our customers love it – they can tailor them to suit their tastes, whether they want classic Italian with basil pesto and lemon and rosemary chicken; or something different, such as steak and cheesy alfredo sauce. The combinations are endless.”

Piada at Wolf Street Food, Leeds

Here are the best Italian restaurants in London (more here)

Padella (Borough Market)

Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda, the duo behind Trullo in Highbury, opened their second restaurant, Padella, in Borough Market in March 2016. Padella’s menu is made up of eight pasta dishes taken from Trullo’s ‘greatest hits’, using fresh pasta rolled in the window of the restaurant just before service.

A small, no-bookings restaurant where queues are a given, Padella was born of a desire to make fresh handmade pasta accessible to everybody, with prices ranging from £5.50 to £11.50. The open kitchen combines traditional Italian techniques and quality British produce to make dishes like pappardelle and eight-hour beef shin ragu, tagliarini with brown shrimps, green and yellow courgette, and its now famous pici cacio e pepe (find the recipe at

Jordan says: “We wanted to create a restaurant that was true to the principles we admired in the great British restaurants – rigorous seasonality with a focus on using British producers wherever possible. We make everything in-house – rolling pasta, baking our bread, churning our ice cream – every day, and do it at a price that isn’t exclusive.”

Check out our full review of Padella, here

Padella, London

Emilia’s (St Katherines Dock)

“Many people have said the view from our restaurant resembles the coast of southern Italy,” says Andrew Macleod, owner of Emilia’s in St Katharine Docks. After developing the concept, Andrew joined forces with pasta chef Simone Stagnitto to create the menus for this rustic pasta bar.

The pasta is made daily on site and the concise menu features just seven pasta dishes. Recipes include a northern Italian-style carbonara and four-hour slow-cooked béchamel bolognese.

Check out our full review of Emilia’s.

Emilias Pasta

Luca (Clerkenwell)

“Someone said to me, you mean ‘Britalian, like the River Café’ – I liked that,” smiles chef Isaac McHale when asked to describe the high-end food at Luca, which features such dishes as montgomery cheddar fonduta and spaghettini with Morecambe Bay shrimp and mace butter.

“We are just happy doing our thing, making it tasty and cooking with an Italian mindfulness of simplicity,” says Isaac. Don’t leave without ordering the light-as-air churro-like parmesan fries.

“We are just happy doing our thing, making it tasty and cooking with an Italian mindfulness of simplicity,” says Isaac. Don’t leave without ordering the light-as-air churro-like parmesan fries.

Check out our full review of Luca.

Luca, Clerkenwell

Sorella (Clapham)

Having lived, worked and even celebrated their wedding on the Amalfi Coast, it had always been a dream of Robin and Sarah Gill (of The Dairy in Clapham) to open an Italian restaurant. After a trip to Italy, co-owner Dean Parker – who worked in one of Robin and Sarah’s favourite restaurants while out there – fell in love with the idea, too. And so, The Dairy’s sibling restaurant, Sorella (meaning ‘sister’), was born in early 2018.

The menu takes a traditional format but is also hugely influenced by the produce from the group’s own farm. As with The Dairy, there is still a focus on methods such as fermentation, and Dean oversees the bread – including semolina sourdough.

The menu starts with cicchetti and antipasti such as fried olives, fennel salumi and truffle arancini. Primi includes cuttlefish linguine with black olives and peppers, gnocchi with wild mushrooms and asparagus, and a seasonal ragu.

Secondi are served using whole cuts from rare breeds or fish from Cornwall. For dolci, there’s Pump Street chocolate with fennel gelato, a seasonal panna cotta and a malted barley affogato with vodka milk.

Drinks are a big focus, with the group’s Dan Joines creating a homemade vermouth. “The vermouth is an essential ingredient in the cocktails we serve,” says Dan. “Making our own has been a passion project for the past three years and now it’s complete. In summer it’s light and fresh, but we also make a deeper, sweeter one (great in a negroni) for winter.”

Gnocchi at Sorella, London

Via Emilia (Hoxton Square)

This is an intimate 40-cover restaurant just off Hoxton Square focusing on food and wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It’s dark and intimate; wood-panelled walls are warmed up by low-hanging lights and marble surfaces, and a mirrored wall on one side of the restaurant gives the appearance of more space.

Lightly fried, pillowy gnocco fritto are best torn apart and spread generously with squacquerone – a mild, creamy soft cheese from the Cesena region which we polished off swiftly. Wafer-thin slithers of peppery salame felino, prosciutto crudo and silky coppa made for a moreish salty snack.

Delicate al dente parcels of ravioli were filled with creamy ricotta, earthy spinach and soaked in a rich sage butter sauce (that we’d have happily welcomed more of) before being topped generously with parmesan.

Dessert is an easy decision to make, either order the tiramisu or don’t. It’s a light way to finish the meal as the serving is small, with the classic creamy, coffee soaked texture and cocoa flavour you’d expect.

As with the food, the wine list focuses on those made in the region, with a large section dedicated to red and white sparkling. Our waiter suggested a red sparkling lambrusco from the coastal city of Reggio which was fruity yet crisp. A refreshing fizz to wash down a plate of hearty bolognese with.

Click here to read our full review of Via Emilia.


Pasta Selection at Via Emilia, Hoxton Square, London

Osteria Romana (Knightsbridge)

This is all about authentic Roman cooking in an intimate setting. The small, softly lit space is kept simple with plain wooden flooring and furniture, earth-hued walls and little copper lamps that shine inviting pools of light over each table. Pots of vivid green basil adorn each table and a wall-to-wall wine rack provides a focal point at one end of the room. The effect is intimate, unpretentious but still tastefully sleek – it is Knightsbridge, after all.

Four fat, handmade gnocchi were the stars of our antipasti. Pleasingly fluffy, they came drizzled with a decadent, moreish black truffle and pecorino sauce. Well-made rice croquettes, with a crisp exterior and meaty ragu filling, were complemented by a tangy tomato velouté. Spaghetti carbonara, that iconic Roman dish, was note perfect, with a silky properly emulsified sauce. Tonnarelli with artichokes and red prawns combined juicy crustacean with dried shards of artichokes and a bisque-like sauce. Lamb chops – served with ultra-smooth mashed potatoes and crispy leeks – were pink, tender and deeply flavoured.

The service is very good: friendly and knowledgeable general manager Diego made us feel like we were being really looked after.

Click here to read our full review of Osteria Romana.

A metal bowl of spaghetti

Pastaio (Soho)

Chef Stevie Parle’s latest venture brings handmade pasta and affordable wines to Soho. This cavernous Tom Dixon-designed space on Ganton Street is all high ceilings and exposed fittings, with a huge, colourful mural (by Rob Lowe of Supermundane) that saves the room from feeling coldly industrial.

From the pasta section, malloreddus (tiny, ridged Sardinian gnocchi) came dressed with a slow-cooked sausage sauce that was elegantly light and flavourful, while agnoli stuffed with grouse, pork and rabbit was a deceptively simple dish that made good use of prime autumn produce.

The drinks offering at Pastaio is short and affordable, ranging from prosecco and Aperol slushies to wines from lesser-known Italian growers, many priced by the glass. We tried a velvety, smoky refosco – a spot-on recommendation from our friendly, knowledgeable waiter.

Click here to read our full review of Pastaio.

A marble table with lots of places of pasta on top

Fiume (Battersea)

This is Calabrian chef Francesco Mazzei’s third restaurant, which is in partnership with D&D London in Circus West Village.

The restaurant’s décor reflects the menu – it’s smart but relaxed. There’s counter dining and high chairs by the bar for quick plates of cicchetti (fried calamari to crostini draped with mozzarella, anchovies and roasted peppers) and homemade breads from the wood-fired pizza oven. The rest of the room, framed around the open-plan kitchen, is well spaced and comfortable – an elegant palette of brass and copper accenting blue (baby and teal) leather, hugging marble and dark wooden tables.

Pasta is handmade, so choosing from the primi menu is difficult – you’ll want a taste of everything. Thin, yolk-yellow strands of tagliolini are punctuated by sweet and sea-fresh flakes of white crabmeat, pepped up with flecks of Amalfi lemon zest, fresh red chilli, flat-leaf parsley and fronds of dill.

A bowl of Welsh lamb ragu fettuccine is slippery, buttery and oh so comforting – rubbles of the flavourful meat and their rich juices marrying into a moreish sauce. This is Italian pasta as it was originally intended.

If the tiramisu sells out, order another bowl of pasta for your final course.

Click here to read our full review of Fiume.

Fiume restaurant, Battersea, London

Temper (Covent Garden)

“I’m sure there are traditionalists out there who think I’m the devil himself, but I’d rather be knocked for trying something new than just roll out someone else’s recipes – I never saw the point in that,” says Neil Rankin, explaining his philosophy at Temper Covent Garden.

This is a restaurant that likes to push the boundaries when it comes to Italian-rooted food, from the aged beef-fat tallow and pesto ravioli to the wood-fired ‘Detroit’ pizza with its topping of goat ragu, mozzarella, London-cured Cobble Lane pepperoni and San Marzano tomatoes.

“I love traditional pizzas and pastas, but London is full of great places doing both – so I wanted to explore a different side to both and have a little fun. For me, food shouldn’t have restrictions and rules past deliciousness.”

Other standout dishes at Temper Covent Garden include the crab okonomiyaki pizza with crab, fennel, langoustine mayo, hoisin, sesame and katsuobushi.

Neil says: “Certain flavour profiles are almost set in stone, but there is always room within those borders to create something new. I like to see connections between cuisines because they’re all related and when you get an obvious crossover it’s fun to exploit that. Especially in London, which is a multicultural, mixed bag of cuisines.”

Read about all our favourite pizza places in London.

Pizza selection at temper, Covent Garden

Credit: Patricia Niven

Photographs: Clair Irwin (Tipo), Tom Bird (Tropea)

Looking for inspirational Italian recipes? Check out our 27 best ever Italian recipes.

Italian Baked Meatballs Recipe

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