Few restaurants successfully manage to transport you back in time without feeling like a clichéd relic from an earlier era, but this UK debut from French hospitality group Big Mamma does just that. Despite its Gallic roots, Gloria’s shtick is Italian food, billing itself as a ‘70s Capri-style trattoria’.
A tiny bar area leads into a buzzy dining room decked out in the kind of flowers, wicker furniture and other faux-distressed details that make Gloria feel like it’s been around for years. There’s another dining room in the basement, this time with a mirrored ceiling and ruched drapes that feel more like an old-school Parisian bistro, although it’s so dimly lit that you’ll need your phone torch to decipher the menu; we’d recommend you book upstairs if you’re eating during daylight hours.
The food at Gloria is, in a word, extra. The menu ripples with over-the-top, Instagram-baiting versions of Italian classics – think a lasagne which is ten layers high, or a slab of lemon meringue pie which looks like it could do serious damage to the Titanic.
Beyond the frivolity, though, there is skill. Pasta al tartufo involves bouncy ribbons of house-made malfadine pasta, rubbed with mascarpone and flecked with black truffle shavings and button mushrooms. We also loved the profiterole Napoletana – a single, gleefully rich giant profiterole which swaps out the traditional cream filling for ice cream, topped with lashings of warm chocolate sauce.
Gloria’s quirkiness – including mismatched crockery and naming a dish ‘Brexit-alia truffle’ – might prove irritating to some, but its infectiously vivacious atmosphere completely charmed us.