Piazza Italiana is the latest restaurant to join the City of London, occupying a Grade II listed building that has been converted from a merchant bank retaining the impressive architectural features. We at Vada were invited to try out the menu.
Restored from its previous use as the home of British Linen Bank, the Piazza Italiana interior combines the grand opulence of the existing Edwardian architecture (note the high ornate ceilings, Neoclassical Corinthian columns, floor-to-ceiling arched windows and wooden panelling) with more contemporary furniture and soft furnishings. On the ground floor, full-length mirrors, dark rich wood and wine display units contrast the soft tones of upholstery, sheer curtains and textured walls.
In addition to the main restaurant space that diners enter into, there is a private dining area to one side, a cosier space by the bar to the rear, and more casual seating nooks upstairs.
On arrival we were left to wait for five minutes before being seated (despite there being no queue), whereas we noted all other diners were seen to straight away, so a slightly cold start. We noted a certain inconsistency of service throughout the entire evening, with all staff picking up a combination of responsibilities, no consistent uniform and a range of politeness – in short, it appeared as though there had been incomplete training and briefing ahead of the night’s service.
Food and wine menu
Whilst the venue interior sets a grandiose tone, the menu is presented partly on a printed menu and partly on a tablet, each with a different design, font etc. It would be simpler for diners to have one single source for all menus (either all on paper or all on tablets), with consistent styling.
There is a lot to choose from the intentionally superlative menu, which comprises classic recipes from all over Italy, we are told using seasonal ingredients, though some dishes remain throughout the year.
We opted for a sharing platter of Antipasto All’Italiana (£20) to start, a selection of charcuterie, cheese and pickles. Whilst simple this was presented like a party centrepiece.
For main courses, we chose the Polpo Grigliato (grilled octopus) (£30), which was served with baby potatoes, olives, cherry tomatoes and artichokes, and the Guancia di Manzo (Slow cooked ox cheek) (£25) served on creamy polenta with a red wine sauce. We ordered sides of sautéed spinach (£6) and celeriac purée (£6) to accompany. The consistent high quality of the food far exceeded that of the inconsistent service, and all dishes were cleanly executed
For dessert (all £8), 2 of the 6 options were unavailable, including the chocolate tart. Our offer to cook up another tart was (probably quite rightly) politely rebuffed, and instead we went for the more traditional Italian choices of:
- Tiramisu (served with coffee ice cream), with well defined layers of soaked sponge and lightly whipped cream
- Ana Caprese Lemon Cake which had a rich citrus hit, and served with a raspberry sorbet and firm peaks of brûléed marshmallow
The wine menu, crafted and overseen by head sommelier Daniele Arcangeli (Italy’s Best Sommelier in 2015), holds some 500 wines, 40 of which are available by the glass. Given such variety, unless you have spotted something specific, ask the sommelier to advise about pairing with your food choices.
Having restored and embellished a grand, listed building, Piazza Italiana makes for an impressive venue – one that clearly (given its location in the City of London) is well suited for working lunches, dinners and corporate events. With the flair and presentation of some of the dishes, including the Tagliolini al Tartufo (Tagliolini pasta with a truffle sauce) spun in a pecorino cheese wheel at the table, the restaurant is also a good choice to take your significant other for an after-work supper. For 2 people for 3 courses the price is about £50pp plus wine and service.
Our only bug-bear was the inconsistent service which throughout the evening ranged from overly helpful to nonexistent – we hope that this is representative of teething problems only.
Piazza Italiana is open Tuesday to Saturday.
Location: Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AY
For more information and to book a table, visit pizzaitaliana.co.uk.