Franco’s is something of an institution in London, having originally sprung up in St James’s in 1945 and believed to be one of the first, and certainly one of the oldest, Italian restaurants in the capital. Open all day, this laid-back restaurant serves everything from a hearty breakfast through to an elegant and authentic dinner, while the all-day bar allows guests to drop by for a drink and a bite whenever the mood takes them.
The décor is smart but decidedly old-school, with white tablecloths, black and white photography, studded banquet seating and loud, floral wallpaper. During the warmer months, alfresco tables at the front of the restaurant quickly fill up, providing the perfect vantage point from which to watch the comings and goings of Jermyn Street.
There’s a menu to suit every occasion and meal type, including set, vegan and vegetarian offerings, but if you’re in town for dinner, then the a la carte menu features a luxurious selection of classic Italian dishes. To start, look out for Parma ham with cantaloupe melon, octopus carpaccio with fennel and orange, and burrata with peas and broad beans. Next, a pasta and soup course features things like lobster linguine, crab and lemon risotto and pea soup with prawns. While main courses range from pan fried wild seabass with samphire, artichokes, cherry tomatoes and clams to beef rossini with sauteed spinach, foie gras and black truffle.
An extensive wine list spans wine-making regions from all over Italy, from Sicily to Tuscany, and even includes separate sections for different styles of wine, whether you’re after a bottle or Barolo or Barbaresco. A collection of classic, signature and after-dinner cocktails are perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinking, including a dedicated negroni list for lovers of the quintessential Italian cocktail. Plenty of aperitifs and digestifs are also on offer.