Silver Award

SquareMeal Review of Brutto

Silver Award

In the time it took to enter Brutto, cross the heaving dining room floor and take a seat at our cosy corner table, we were already mentally planning our next visit. It takes a truly special restaurant to elicit this sense of confidence within the first two minutes of arriving, but then the restaurant is exactly that: truly special.  

Everything about this old-school Italian spot is a little bit imperfect, in a well-thought-out, perfectly-executed kind of way. From the ceiling hang rotating industrial fans designed to imply its 30 degrees outside (we’re in Florence, after all), while red and white checkerboard tablecloths, dinky wine glasses and a typed up drinks menu printed on stapled-together sheets of A4 paper feel whimsical yet convincing.  

This is founder and ex-Polpo mastermind Russell Norman’s brilliant achievement. He’s there on the night, polite, funny and clearly eager to play a role in his own production. And who wouldn’t want a part in this play? Further roles are filled by staff dressed in all-white uniforms, darting between tables delivering rounds of deep-fried dough balls with soft cheese and prosciutto.  

We respect the simplicity of the dishes. Sourdough with anchovies and cold butter is exactly that – no more, no less. The tagliatelle ragu possesses crucial al dente bite and is slick with a meaty, long-simmered sauce. A dish resembling cous cous is in fact Brutto’s take on panzanella, a delicate grain-like pile of bread and tomato fragrant with olive oil and garlic. Then there’s the tiramisu, which it would have been criminal not to order, that’s light and seeps coffee and marsala when attacked with a spoon. The dishes aren’t lookers and they don't sell you a pipe dream by promising more than they’re worth. But each one is fresh, homemade, playfully authentic and delivered at an unhurried pace.  

Finally, what of the price? The most expensive item on the menu is £16 and a good chunk are well below that. Negronis are a fiver. As is a glass of house wine. The truth is, they just don’t make ‘em like Brutto anymore.  

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Fun, Lively, Romantic, Traditional, Unique
SquareMeal London Top 100
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Counter dining, Dog friendly, Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Celebrations, Dates, Romantic
Food Hygiene Rating


A casual neighbourhood trattoria, Brutto is serving up simple and high quality flavours that will whisk you away to Tuscany with classic Florentine dishes. Located in the heart of Farringdon, Brutto is serving London's relentless hunger for Italian food with new and exciting dishes to tempt diners through the door.

'Brutto' is Italian for ugly - the restaurant is anything but, though it does have a more rustic, barebones charm about it. Moody lighting softens the restaurant's rougher edges, and classic red and white tablecloths adorn the wooden tables. One corner of the restaurant is tiled in red, white and green, in homage to the iconic Florentine trattoria Sostanza. It is clearly more than just a Florentine menu - restaurateur Russell Norman has done his homework to make this every inch an authentic Florentine experience, such as an absence of fish from the menu!  

The philosophy of the menu, they say, is 'simplicity, quality, authenticity and big flavours,' and the menu certainly seems to deliver on all those fronts. To start, there's simple antipasti - anchovies with bread and butter, cannellini and rosemary crostini, chicken liver crostini and coccoli - Florentine fried dough balls - with prosciutto and stracchino cheese. 

A handful of pasta dishes follow but it's the secondi that truly continue the Florentine vibe - peposo (a Tuscan beef and black pepper stew), fennel sausage with braised lentils and mustard, and bistecca alla Fiorentina all appear at very reasonable prices. For those with a sweet tooth there's a simple but comforting dessert choice - tart, tiramisu, brutti ma buoni - 'ugly but good' hazelnut meringue biscuits with gelato. Wines are equally well-priced, as are cocktails (a negroni is just £5, for example). 

A word of warning, they are not a silent restaurant! Enjoy a variety of live music which, coupled with the natural buzz, might mean it'll be rather loud!


Can you book the restaurant?

Yes, you will need to book a table. Bookings are only available 14 days in advance and you can do so via the website.

Helpful? 1

Do you have any vegetarian options?

Yes, there are a number of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu.

Helpful? 0


35-37 Greenhill Rents, Farringdon, London, EC1M 6BN

020 4537 0928 020 4537 0928


Opening Times

Mon 12:00-14:45
Tue 12:00-14:45
Wed 12:00-14:45
Thu 12:00-14:45
Fri 12:00-14:45
Sat 12:00-14:45
Sun Closed
Mon 17:30-22:30
Tue 17:30-22:30
Wed 17:30-22:30
Thu 17:30-22:30
Fri 17:30-22:30
Sat 17:30-22:30
Sun Closed


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2 Reviews 


23 November 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Simple format but all done oh so well - staff, setting and food all high class


23 March 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Lovely restaurant, great Italian food , reasonably priced, charming staff 

Book a table

Call Brutto to make a booking on:

020 4537 0928 020 4537 0928

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