Still one of the toughest tickets in town to get a table at, Locanda Locatelli combines a lasting ‘wow' factor with ‘warm, unpretentious' service. Appended to a hotel, the subdued leather-and-wood dining room has a low-level glow of contentment and a Damien Hirst on the wall; even during a businessy lunch service, it feels like an occasion. And why wouldn't diners appreciate Locatelli's approach to his beloved Italian food – beautiful, seasonal and driven by flavour? Great technique comes as standard, and classics such as ox tongue with salsa verde are rarely off the menu; readers also love the pappardelle with chicken livers and sage, as well as the spring lamb with morels and minted pea purée. To finish, Locatelli's spin on the traditional cassata is as light and sweet as the original, but with a sophisticated style that delights his worldly customers. Italophiles can have a field day with the patrician wine list, though naff-sounding cocktails and a slightly tired bar are a rare misstep.
As expected, a roll call of some of Italy’s best producers, Locanda Locatelli has built real buying power in this deeply patriotic list. You can sample big hitters from the likes of Gaja or Antinori, but those in the know prefer to explore the many boutique labels on offer instead.
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