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SquareMeal Review of Norma

Silver Award

With celebrated chef Ben Tish at the helm, it was unlikely Norma was ever going to be a flop. Tish is the owner of a CV that ranges from learning his trade under Jason Atherton to being the chef director of the Salt Yard Group.

This latest venture aims to bring Sicilian food to the capital, with a Moorish twist which reflects the island’s history. Tish’s winning formula of bright, bold flavours and comforting combinations ensure his plates are crowd pleasers.

Our meal began with hunky homemade focaccia accompanied by a jug of bitter, golden olive oil to allow for free pouring. Asking the friendly team for direction threw up a series of plate-scrapingly good small dishes. Fat, sweet cherrystone clams from the raw bar were seasoned unexpectedly with rich saffron and spiky shallots, cleansing the palate for the next course.

Caponata, which is famously a labour of love thanks to the complex recipe stages that include batch frying the aubergine before stewing it with the other veg, was sweet and sour and the kind of thing you regret agreeing to share no matter how much you like the person sitting opposite you. Smoked cod roe dip offset with sweet charred onions was another gem.

Thoughtfully, the team here offer pasta in small or large portions, to allow greedy-eyed menu hogs to try more than is necessary. Despite it being the signature dish, the pasta alla Norma didn’t have the layers of flavour found elsewhere on the menu but with so many other strong contenders it’s a blip we overlooked.

Despite the food being the main reason to come, the drinks are a little bit special too. Homemade limoncello, for instance, makes a nice finisher. Interiors aren’t too shabby either, with North African touches allowing for secluded seating in archways beneath beautiful glass hanging lights.


About Norma

This Sicilian-inspired restaurant is overseen by chef Ben Tish, who previously ran the Salt Yard group and is now culinary director of The Stafford London hotel.

Norma is split across three floors, with the ground floor a restaurant, the first floor a cocktail bar and the top floor a private dining space. You’ll also spy a crudo bar at the restaurant’s entrance, which will serve up fresh seafood dressed in olive oil.

The menu features Sicilian-inspired dishes made using seasonal Italian and British produce – think antipasti and pastas, followed by grilled meat and fish dishes. Those dining in the private space can order family-style sharing platters, while the main restaurant stays open until 10.30pm.  

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Food Occasions
All day dining

Special offers from Norma

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From: 11 September, 2019
To: 14 August, 2029
Availability: ,

Location for Norma

8 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2LS

020 3995 6224


Opening Times

All day
Mon 11:30-00:00
Tue 11:30-00:00
Wed 11:30-00:00
Thu 11:30-00:00
Fri 11:30-00:00
Sat 12:00-00:00
Sun 12:00-21:00

Reviews of Norma

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1 Review 

Mr. Alex G

Mamma Mia!
07 January 2020  

Ask most people to come up with expressions they typically associate with Italy and you might find ‘good food’ and ‘chaotic organisation’ mentioned. It would, however, be relatively rare to see both used in the same sentence. As far as Norma – a new Italian venture is Fitzrovia is concerned – where it excelled in food, it failed in service. Maybe the team was having a bad day, but in a dining district as competitive as Fitzrovia, our experience does not auger well for the restaurant’s longevity. On paper and indeed at first glance, everything seems promising. The venture is headed by a seasoned team (ex-Salt Yard and Jason Atherton), they have an interesting angle (emphasising Sicilian cooking and taking in north African influences) and the venue was decorated beautifully (we loved the Moorish tiling). The menu also sounds promising, offering five sections from snacks to mains, each with around five items. This though was where our problems began. There were five in our dining group and five antipasti from which to choose. Let’s go for one of each – a logical decision – but our server had omitted to tell us when he brought the menus that one of the dishes was not available. We asked instead for a red prawn option from the raw bar. Our server did helpfully mention that the dish only contained four prawns but that he would ask the kitchen to place five on our plate. How many turned up? You’ve guessed it – just four. That said, each option that did arrive smashed it. My favourite was a beautifully paired roasted pumpkin, burrata, chicory and fig salad, but pan-fried artichokes and smoked cod’s roe both excelled too. The pattern was repeated with the mains although the highs achieved with the starters were not quite reached and the service experience proved markedly worse. Rule 101 of restaurants is to bring all the dishes at the same time unless you’ve quite explicitly explained why this might not be the case. Three of our group’s arrived in one batch, another five minutes later and then the final one after the remainder of us had already finished. And they forgot the sides. What we ate both looked and tasted good (my ragu of pork, anchovy, and fresh mint packed a hearty earthiness) but as has been said in many other reviews, bad service has to trump good food every time – at least in terms of what will be our prevailing memory. The restaurant did acknowledge the error of its ways, giving us not only our mains free of charge, but also a complementary bottle of wine. To add insult to injury though, one of the venue’s mid-priced wines was also mysteriously unavailable, despite there being no prior warning of this. Norma’s ship may have already sailed. I will not be looking to reboard.

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