The low-down on where to enjoy la dolce vita in London
London Fashion Week may have ended but there’s no rest for the fashion folk who will be making their way to Milan as Italy’s fashion stalwarts get ready to unveil their Spring/Summer 2015 collections.
However if you can’t clear your schedule in time to jet out to the Italian fashion capital for Milan Fashion Week (September 17-23), don’t despair. We’ve got the low-down on five venues where you can enjoy la dolce vita without even leaving London
1. Cafe Murano
National treasure Angela Hartnett is the proprietor of this St James's Street gem - 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.
33 St James's Street, SW1
You’ll need to wander west to Harrow on the Hill – an area famous for its elite boarding school whose boys (high profile past pupils include Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Byron and Benedict Cumberbatch) still wear ‘boaters’ - in order to reach Incanto. But a meal at this classy Italian restaurant rewards any effort involved. There’s a wide ranging selection of antipasti, primi piatti and secondi piatti so choosing what to order represents something of a delicious dilemma. Our advice? Treat your tastebuds and opt for the tasting menu (vegetarians will find something that appeals too) which allows you to sample several ‘standout’ dishes. A handy spot to know when in Harrow
The Old Post Office, 41 High Street, Harrow on the Hill, HA1 3HT
3. Locanda Locatelli
Chiltern Firehouse, Fischer's, Trishna and Canvas and posh patisseries La Patisserie des Reves have all recently 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 achingly cool clientele.
8 Seymour Street, W1
4. Osteria Basilico
Located on the lovely Kensington Park Road, this neighbourhood institution prickles with an air of excitement 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, W1
Russell Norman 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. Make no mistake: Norman is the Jose Mourinho of the restaurant industry - winning relentlessly in a brutal, ever changing league.
2-3 Cowcross Street, EC1