Before it became the thriving capital of the United Kingdom, London was a Roman port town. The ancient city of Londium was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. It was the Romans, in fact, who built the first bridge over the Thames River. Although a lot has changed since then, London remains one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the world. Not to mention delicious. With thousands of Italian restaurants in London, there are so many wonderful places to enjoy Mediterranean dishes in this bustling capital.
When I first moved to London five years ago, I discovered a vibrant city that was always on the move. And I discovered a city that was filled with Italians. Everyone I met stirred up the feelings of home I had left behind. My beloved pizzaioli taught me the art of resilience: that of working endless shifts away from the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. I watched entranced as their energetic hands gently molded the white pizza dough on the marble counters 2,000km away from Naples. The skilled baristi showed me the art of Italian coffee and the joy in preparing it for someone you love.
I learned to uncover my Italian roots everywhere I went, eating my way through the city’s restaurants, cafés, wine bars, and grocery stores. This is a guide on how to live, love and laugh—oh so loudly, just like an Italian would do—in London.
The Best Italian Restaurants in London
What is an Italian without coffee? For many of us, there would be no life without coffee (and yes, we’re quite dramatic over here).
Serving real Neapolitan espresso in a tiny, very authentic location, Caffè Napoli put an end to the endless journey for the perfect coffee in the British capital. A popular café in Milan, the London location is close to many universities and has no seating room. This is a takeaway-only spot—or you can make like an Italian and enjoy your espresso directly al banco.
When the sun comes out and a warm breeze wafts through the area, I love to ride my bike around the hills. My favorite spot to watch a nice sunset is Primrose Hill, I adore how the sky turns into all sorts of pink shades above the skyline. Afterward, I like to make my way up to Hampsted Health and its beautiful ponds.
Villa Bianca, with its romantic and intimate terrace, is my favorite spot. Nestled in a lovely alley, it gives you the perfect feeling, the one you long for when thinking of sun-kissed terraces in Positano. Although they mostly serve traditional fine-dining Italian meals, the seasonal menu always offers an array of vegetarian options, too.
If you’re into wine and jazz music, then Dalla Terra is your go-to wine bar in Covent Garden. Every Sunday you can catch live music here. The big glass windows and spacious wine cellar make this a great venue for celebrations with loved ones.
The Wine Place
The Wine Place will always have the biggest place in my heart. A cozy little spot in the basement of Covent Garden Market, it is undoubtedly the best Italian wine bar in London. Sit outside to enjoy busker artists playing opera music while you enjoy fluffy focaccia and a fresh ham and cheese board.
If you’re more of a daydreamer, try the very Instagrammable Circolo Poplare. This is certainly one of the best Italian restaurants in London, if not the most beautiful. The contemporary Mediterranean bistro features an indoor pergola covered with wisteria and serves tasty pasta along with marvelous burrata and basil. Part of an international collective called the Big Mamma group, it’s one of a dozen locations across France, Spain, and Germany. In London, try sister restaurants Gloria and Ave Mario for greater Italian fare.
A quality food court with an urban twist, Mercato Metropolitano is a chic hangout for friends, families, and anyone who loves good food. Located inside the deconsecrated church of St. Mark’s on North Audely Street, it’s full of restaurants in a mesmerizing dining hall. You’ll also find mini marts for easy grocery shopping in the heart of Mayfair. Stop at Fresco, a casual pizza truck, for a fresh margherita or order artisanal cocktails at Jim & Tonic.
Prezzemolo & Vitale
We Italians grow up with the tradition of fare la spesa (grocery shopping). We love sourcing our food with great care (many times). This takes place in small local shops rather than big markets. We also adore street markets with bright, handwritten signs—pomodori (tomatoes)€2,50/kg—everywhere we go.
Prezzemolo & Vitale is my go-to place for Italian grocery shopping when in London. Although it’s small, it has everything you need for a healthy Mediterranean diet. Everything is organic and locally sourced, and their wine selection is excellent. Prezzemolo and Vitale’s owners are originally from Sicily so ask for a nice Sicilian white served alongside a tasty homemade aperitivo or a board of freshly sliced cheese.
Just as I love my white wine crisp and chilled, I love going out for breakfast on an easy Sunday morning. Biting into a fresh croissant is like slipping on my favorite dress. On the West side, all of London’s Italian delis offer you the best freshly baked bread loaves, croissants, and of course our beloved biscotti. Some also offer great deals for meat, takeaway pasta, and veggies too. I adore walking down Elgin Avenue (Maida Vale) and stopping by La Piccola Deli for a frothy cappuccino and a flaky almond croissant to go with it.
London is overflowing with pizza places and, while there are many nice ones, 50 Kalò by Ciro Salvo is arguably the best. Set in an elegant location near Trafalgar Square, the pizzeria is an offshoot of the popular 50 Kalò in Naples and was ranked No. 1 in London by Gambero Rosso and Italy’s Best by the New York times. If you want to get the real feeling of what it is like to queue for pizza in Naples and listen to the loud voices of other Italians queuing next to you— then drop by on the weekend. Italy will be just a blink away.