This Bermondsey Street address has an impeccable pedigree when it comes to Italian restaurants – it was once home to Zucca, the much-loved (and much-missed) showcase for the talents of chef Sam Harris. Its newest tenant is Angela Hartnett, who has opened this third London outpost of Café Murano, her casual offshoot of her Michelin-starred Murano restaurant, towards the bottom of Bermondsey Street.
It’s a big space, with room for 110 diners, though the clever design means that tables still feel intimate, while there’s life and laughter coming from the long open kitchen (with seats at the counter). A wall of windows keeps things light and bright by day while the headlights of passing cars adds an urban edge at night; it all feels more up-to-date than Hartnett’s more polished-looking West End sites, as too the interior design which clashes Italian marble with raw concrete alongside Café Murano’s signature timber panelling.
Fresh pasta made on site and superior-quality risotto rice is, as ever, the main draw at Café Murano – marigold-yellow ravioli glistening with grassy olive oil and glinting with black pepper or, in autumn, a Parmesan risotto shaved with a snowfall of white truffle.
Elsewhere, the dishes are no less appealing for being so simple: octopus carpaccio with olives, potato and chilli oil, say, followed by a stew of lamb neck with carrots and celery or stone bass with the aniseed and iodine notes of fennel and samphire. You might, though, find yourself casting longing glances at a terrific-value £10 kids’ menu which has chicken Milanese or tagliatelle with sausage ragu followed by ice cream or fruit salad.
If you don’t want to eat, there’s a bar for aperitivi and cicchetti (anchovies, arancini) and Italian gins put to good use in an authentically Italian Negroni. The all-Italian wine list, meanwhile, focuses on small producers, with an emphasis on low intervention and biodynamic methods of winemaking; if you’re not sure what to order, you can’t go wrong with the own-label Angela Hartnett Toscana bianco produced by Tenuta Fertuna.