Back from Milan Fashion Week and missing all the fabulous Italian food? Panic not: we’ve hand-picked five places guaranteed to transport you back to the Bel Paese (beautiful country) without leaving London
1 Cafe Murano
The wonderful Angela Hartnett (who’s near enough a national treasure) is the proprietor of the recently opened Cafe Murano. It’s the relaxed little sister to Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Murano.Italophile Sam Williams has devised the menu which revolves around rustic Northern Italian food (think fettuccine with wild boar or a roasted monkfish tail with brown shrimps and golden raisins). Be sure to save room for dessert - the homemade gelati in flavours such as fig and mascarpone is not to be missed.Bottom line? Cafe Murano feels like what it is: a quality experience.
33 St James's Street, SW1A 1HD
You’ll need to wander west to Harrow on the Hill to reach Incanto but the pay off - a classy Italian restaurant situated in what was once a post office - is worth it. The moment you set foot in the restaurant - a stone's throw from the famous public school - you know you’re in the hands of professionals. Incanto’s polished front of house team steer you with a smile to your table and there’s an equally confident brigade at work in the kitchen.The food sticks to traditions and sommeliers are on tap to match your meal with a sizable glass of wine. The dessert list is persuasive too: think a chestnut panacotta and blood orange soufflé. Essentially Incanto is a slick joint that’s worth knowing about if you’re in west London.
The Old Post Office, 41 High Street, Harrow on the Hill, HA1 3HT
3 Locanda Locatelli
Marylebone is having a moment. Hotelier Andre Balaz launched his London bolt-hole, Chiltern Firehouse, last week while an array of restaurants - here’s looking at you Trishna and Canvas - and posh patisseries (La Patisserie des Reves, anyone?) have all opened their doors in W1.But Marylebone veteran, Locanda Locatelli, won’t be losing its popularity anytime soon. The Michelin starred restaurant has a lot going for it: from the impressive food menu (celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli has created some outstanding dishes such as Amarone and radicchio risotto) and extensive wine list to the cool clientele - Madonna hung out here when she called the capital home.
8 Seymour Street, W1H 7JZ
4 Osteria Basilico
Osteria Basilico has become something of a neighbourhood institution ever since it first opened its doors in 1992.Located on the lovely Kensington Park Road, the handsome surroundings prickle with an air of excitement - politicians and power brokers frequent this traditional Italian local - as the attentive staff show you to your table.The menu is packed with treasures - there’s something for everyone and every situation - and there's a good list of wines too. But you’ll need to book - the Notting Hill set love this place. If you can’t get in, try Osteria’s sister restaurants - Mediterraneo and Essenza - handily located in the same, salubrious street.
29 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill Gate, W11 2EU
Russell Norman is the Jose Mourinho of the restaurant industry - winning relentlessly in a brutal, ever changing league. The star of BBC2’s The Restaurant Man opened his first Polpo on Beak Street in September 2009 to rave reviews. Polpo Soho spawned Polpo Covent Garden in 2011 and, our favourite, Polpo Smithfield in 2012 - as well as Polpetto, Spuntino (a New York speakeasy), Mishkins (a Jewish style deli) and the gastropub, Ape & Bird.Regardless of which Polpo you pop into, expect small plates of innovative, Venetian-influenced food served up in rustic surroundings.Be prepared to queue (Norman operates a no bookings policy) but, if you get a table, you won’t leave disappointed.
2-3 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6DR