The latest London outpost of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is opening on Soho’s Old Compton Street, occupying the former site of the very first Patisserie Valerie. The cake-heavy café first opened in 1987 and went on to spawn spin-offs across the UK, but closed its doors in 2019 after the company’s finances caved in.
Let’s hope L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which has opened franchised locations across the world, doesn’t await the same fate. The restaurant is known for its rustic charm and simple menu of just two pizzas - margherita and marinara - which are prepared by a team of chefs in a partially open kitchen at the back of the intimate space.
There are only a few starters, sides or condiments available at the restaurant, allowing the much-feted pizzas to really shine. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele does not take bookings, so you can normally expect to join a queue when stopping by.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele first rose to prominence when the Naples original was featured in the 2010 film Eat Pray Love, which saw Julia Roberts play a recently divorced woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes her to Italy, India and Bali. Since then, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has become a worldwide phenomenon.
The Soho site is technically the third London location for the brand, but will only be the second to still bear the L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele name. There’s another site on Baker Street while the first in London was in Stoke Newington, but has since been renamed to Vicoli di Napoli Pizzeria following a legal battle between L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele’s licensing company, Michele in the World, and the franchisees.
The news of the opening was first spotted by London chef Victor Garvey, who posted a picture of the restaurant’s initial signage to his Twitter feed. Garvey operates Rambla in Soho, a casual spot which focuses on dishes inspired by Catalonia.