Andy Mossack reviews Piazza Italiana, the recently opened London branch of this upscale eastern European restaurant group.
I had high hopes for Piazza Italiana, after all, Threadneedle Street is the home of The Bank of England, and you can’t get more City than that. As if to emphasise the point, the restaurant occupies what was once the former London home of the British Linen Bank, a gorgeous Grade II listed Edwardian mansion. Rather apt for a classy Italian restaurant really, with her fully restored ornate ceilings and neoclassical Corinthian columns you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve been teleported to the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
Already with branches in Riga and Moscow, and a thriving private jet catering business, there is some serious investment behind Victor Ravdive’s Resto-Rators restaurant group. And honestly, I can’t think of a more perfect spot to land in London than slap in the middle of the iconic square mile.
The main restaurant is laid out in the former teller’s hall, a spectacular space that offers the wow factor the moment you walk in. By day it’s no doubt a place for sealing fiscal deals over oysters, caviar, and fine wines, but after dark, the candles are lit, and the ambience is all about sophistication, romance, and fine dining.
There are obvious parallels to Novikov’s Italian Restaurant, but this isn’t Mayfair. To me, it’s more about how the City is repurposing itself for the nighttime economy. Its streets have gone from weekend silent to the hottest places in town, and from the way Piazza Italiana was filling up on this particular Saturday night, Ravdive has made a genius move.
Our table, discreetly perched by a side wall, was ideal for people-watching across the vast room, a tableau constantly unfolding in front of our eyes. A cart with a giant wheel of cheese kept catching my eye, moving across the room and stopping by a table every so often. I later discovered this was Piazza Italiana’s famous tagliolini al tartufo (£24) fresh tagliolini with a truffle sauce spun tableside inside a pecorino wheel. Great theatre and looked delicious.
The menu is all about celebrating Italy’s regional favourites curated by brand-chef Remo Mazzucato and we were more than happy to join in the celebrations. Of course, it helps when you get off to a flying start. I was intrigued by the gallinacci patate croccanti (£18) but the translation of creamy girolle mushrooms on fried layered potatoes really didn’t do it justice. This was undeniably heaven on a plate for me. The sauteed potatoes were sliced razor-thin, almost like carpaccio and the girolles were bathed in a sensational cream sauce that was pure indulgence.
While I was engrossed in my mushroom fix, Mrs M was cooing over an equally divine insalata di pomodori e burrata (£18) a bed of giant oxheart tomatoes topped by creamy burrata, red onion and basil. You could argue you can’t really go wrong with those four ingredients, but sadly I have experienced it is possible on more than one occasion. It’s all down to the quality of the burrata, the oil and the freshness of the tomatoes, and this one was outstanding.
Pebbles were used as rests for our cutlery, keeping them away from the tabletop and changed for each course; a nice touch in this Covid-wary world.
Our new set of pebbles heralded the triumphant arrival of our mains held aloft by a very efficient service team. I had plumped for the filetto di manzo alla griglia (£37) an absolute belter of a fillet steak settled regally on its own wooden board accompanied by a Jenga construct of triple-cooked chips and a ramekin of fresh peppercorn sauce. I am by nature, always a little reluctant to get too carried away when describing a plate of food, but I’ll make an exception in this case. It was, hands down, the finest fillet steak I have eaten in living memory. There, I’ve said it.
Mrs M had ordered the special of the day. Pan-fried halibut on a bed of asparagus, sprouts and French beans surrounded by a white wine and lemon sauce (£27). And this was a first, our waiter had asked “how would you like your halibut cooked madam? I suggest medium.” A confident nod from Mrs M, surprised and delighted with the question. It arrived exactly as requested, with the veg perfectly cooked, crunchy, and full of flavour.
By now, the stately main floor at Piazza Italiana had filled up, the last of the dine later patrons seated and yet, the service was still smoothly attentive, a sure sign of an organised team.
After two stellar courses, would it be chancing our arm to try for a third? The Dolci did look very appealing, so why not. The restaurant carried an impressive list of ten top Italian cheeses from ancient Castelmagno to colourful blue di Langa (£8 for a choice of 3 up to £19 for a choice of seven). We passed on a cheese course and some predictable Italian Dolci favourites to pick two unusual dishes.
Carpaccio all’annas con crema al mascarpone e frutti di bosco was a lengthy way to describe pineapple carpaccio with Marsapone cream and berries £8. True to form, another showstopper. The blueberry cheesecake with mango sorbet (£8) wasn’t that far behind it.
Let’s face it, a trio of bull’s eyes per diner is a feat not many restaurants could pull off. Perhaps, not even Novikov. Threadneedle Street has seen a lot of comings and goings during her long and eventful life. I suspect Piazza Italiana might be sticking around for some time. I absolutely loved it.
All food images (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Piazza Italiana restaurant
Piazza Italiana, 38 Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AY
T: 020 7256 7223 E: firstname.lastname@example.org