Norma

Italian, North African·
££££
·
Gold Award
·

SquareMeal Review of Norma

Gold Award

Ben Tish might be the big name that Norma’s become widely associated with since he first opened the restaurant in 2019, but three years and a change in hands later, executive chef Giovann Attard has now stepped in to fill Tish’s culinary shoes – and they fit like a glass slipper.  

Norma’s Sicilian and North African influences remain as intact as ever and Attard doesn’t deviate from the dishes it already does so well. We ordered ‘that’ crab linguine – the one that sees fresh pasta steeped in a butter-rich lemon and crab sauce served inside a giant crab shell - and immediately understood why it's one of the restaurant's most popular dishes.  

Preceding that, though, were a series of antipasti that had already set the bar sky high. An achingly pretty take on scallop crudo involving edible flowers, pickled fennel and garden peas was light and refreshing, while a soft-centred ball of burrata on garlic toast with charred courgettes and spiced chilli pesto exemplified Attard’s finely-tuned palate and ability to balance unorthodox flavours. Again and again, fresh ingredients were handled carefully and often placed under the spotlight. Secondi took the form of perfectly-cooked stone bass with Jerusalem artichokes and a caper, agretti and mussel sauce, while a simple tomato salad was impossibly sweet and well-seasoned. A shot glass of blood orange granita and a glass of homemade limoncello provided the impactful finale we needed.  

Eating at Norma is like hanging out with friends who want you to have a good time. We found ourselves chatting (bonding?) about the menu with our fantastic waiter Nico at multiple points, who incidentally grew up in Southern Italy and was able to answer our questions and recommendation requests with genuine expertise and enthusiasm. While, low-level lighting and plush interiors reminded us of a vintage, albeit first-class, train carriage designed to cart guests away to warmer lands for the evening. Makes sense too, for Norma is a truly transportive experience.  

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Italian, North African
Ambience
Cosy, Dark and moody, Glamorous, Lively, Luxury, Romantic
Food Occasions
All day dining, Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace
Special Features
Gluten-free options, Vegan options, Vegetarian options
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Dates, Group dining [8+], Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

About

Norma celebrates the coming together of flavours from the south of Italy and north Africa, a pairing that pays homage to the history of Sicily. This Italian-inspired restaurant was originally overseen by Ben Tish, but now rests in the hands of executive chef Giovann Attard.

Despite the definite foodie credentials, a visit to the restaurant is as much about the interiors and hospitality as it is the menu. The three-floor townhouse space looks to recreate the grand café culture found throughout Sicily, while staff are warm and charming in their manners, reminiscent of that signature Italian service. A crudo bar greets guests at the entrance, made up of striking marble colours, while the dining room is awash with intricate mosaic walls, hanging pendant lighting, booth seating and cosy seating nooks found in carved-out arch spaces. Low lighting adds to the ambiance.

On the first floor you’ll find the cocktail bar where you can enjoy drinks and snacks, while the top floor hosts a private dining space. Here guests can work with the kitchen team to perfect their party menu from a selection of family-style sharing platters and will enjoy their meal in the warm and intimate surrounds of the mirrored-ceiling space.

Back in the main restaurant and the menu features Sicilian-inspired dishes made using seasonal Italian and British produce. While the menu might change from day-to-day, you can always expect sparklingly fresh seafood from the bar, dressed with high-quality olive oil or other deftly handled garnishes, while the antipasti options might throw up combinations like burrata with chicory, blood orange and coriander seeds. Homemade pastas are the kitchen’s signature serves, while mains like grilled salt marsh lamb or pan-fried stone bass feature as large plates. There is also a full vegan menu for plant-based eaters and a selection of tempting dessert for a sweet finish to your experience at Norma.


FAQs

Who is the head chef at the restaurant?

The head chef is Giovann Attard.

Helpful? 0

Is there a tasting menu at the restaurant?

Yes, there are both tasting and set menus available.

Helpful? 0

This venue also offers

Norma
Private Group Dining

Norma

Norma
Christmas Parties

Norma

Events

£40Mother's Day at Norma
Dining Experience
Mother's Day at Norma

10 Mar 2024

ON SUNDAY 10TH MARCH, WE WILL BE OPENING OUR RESTAURANT DOORS FOR A SPECTACULAR, SICILIAN-INSPIRED MOTHER’S DAY FEAST, TO CELEBRATE ALL THE WONDERFUL MAMMA’S OUT THERE.

YOU CAN ENJOY EITHER TWO, THREE OR FOUR COURSES ON OUR MOTHER’S DAY MENU, ALONGSIDE A SPECIAL TREAT FOR MUM!

Book Here

Location

8 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2LS

020 3995 6224 020 3995 6224

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon 12:00-15:00
Tue 12:00-15:00
Wed 12:00-15:00
Thu 12:00-15:00
Fri 12:00-15:00
Sat Closed
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon 17:00-22:30
Tue 17:00-22:30
Wed 17:00-22:30
Thu 17:00-22:30
Fri 17:00-22:30
Sat Closed
Sun Closed
All day
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat 12:00-22:30
Sun Closed

Reviews

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3 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Lloyd S

23 September 2021  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 4
Amazing Sicilian Food

Being a lover of Italian food we were very interested to try the latest restaurant from the Salt Yard group. Especially as it was under the guidance and creativity of head chef Ben Tish. This is a sicilian style restaurant set in the heart of the very popular area of charlotte street and believe me is an absolute gem.

 

As we had a week of work it gave us the opportunity for a midweek lunch. So we made our way to tottenham court road station before taking the short five minute walk to charlotte street. We arrived at the restaurant to receive a fabulous friendly welcome before being escorted to our table. This was to be in a little two seater booth on the ground floor. The restaurant itself is set over three floors with a mixture of booths and tables as well as a private dining room on the third floor.

 

We started with a Classic Negroni and a Bacca Rossa cocktail while we took a look at the menu. This is set out with a selection of snacks followed by a choice of small plates. You then move to the pasta section for which you can have a small or large portion. This leads to the large plates before finishing with a dessert menu. After a very helpful chat with a waitress we were able to create a four course menu where the two dishes from each course would arrive at the same time. We thought this was great so she gave us a couple of minutes to decide.

 

First to arrive was the Focaccia Bread with olive oil and the Nduja , orange blossom honey Crostini that were quite spicy but absolutely amazing.

 

This led us to the the Small Plates where we started with the Charcoal Grilled Red Prawns with aleppo chilli salt & caramelised lemon as well as the Crispy Fried Baby Squid with preserved lemon , sesame seeds & squid ink aioli. On the tasting of these two dishes we just knew we were in for a treat as the flavours were amazing.

 

Now we moved on to the Pasta where we both decided to opt for a small sized portion. My wife chose her favourite Gnocchi this came with marsala cream , seasonal mushrooms & lardo di nebrodi. For my I had the Pasta Alla Norma which was with aubergine , tomato & ricotta. These were fantastic pasta dishes where our only disappointment was not ordering the larger portions.

 

This led us to the main event of the Large Plates and straight away my wife was drawn to the Aubergine Parmigiana. For myself there was only one choice which was the Hake which came with borlotti beans , mussels , datterini tomatoes , olives and a summer herb aioli. These dishes were simply stunning and when accompanied with the sides of Fried Potatoes , grated pecorino & truffle took the dishes to another level.

 

Now it was time to finish with Dessert and what was about to come was absolutely delicious. My wife decided to have a homemade Cannoli filled with a bitter chocolate ganache. For myself I opted for the ‘Norma’ Tiramisu with Pistachio and let me tell you right here and now this was the best Tiramisu you will ever have in your entire lifetime. This was a dessert from heaven so I would like to personally thank the pastry chef for this stunning creation.

 

With an espresso to finish brought to an end an absolutely fabulous Sicilian lunch. The food was amazing and was equally matched by great cocktails , good wine and excellent friendly service making this a fantastic dining experience and one I would highly recommend trying.

 

Thank You Ben and all your team for a fantastic lunch and look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Hugo G

10 March 2020   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 3
Value 0.5
Great pasta but an astonishing bill!

First time here for a catch up with an old client.

Arrived for lunch 5 minutes late but luckily my guest was comfortable enough to have ordered a cocktail for himself. He was persuaded to surrender his requested G&T for their cocktail of prosecco and bergamot... it slipped down well enough.

The interior is bright and good for a lunch meeting, though mainly banquettes and very small tables for two. Not sure it has the cosy feel one might want for a dinner date. We had three starters of the suggested snacks, raw and antipasti being smoked anchovies, smoked cods roe and sea bream.

The smoked anchovy consisted of two small fillets divided into four, for the princely sum of £9.00  The waiter looked alost embarassed at our rather surprised faces on delivery of such a tiny morsel. The cods roe was the right combination of salty and smooth and enough for both to  enjoy more than a mouthful each. The sea bream came on a 15cm dish in diameter (at most) and contained relatively fresh sea bream in a dressing with pomegranites and bottarga. Good but no wow factor. 

We followed with main course portions of their pappardelle with beef cheeks, pecorino and truffle. Absolutely superb and a winner, just a pity the main course portions resemble a starter in most similar establishments.

A bottle of Grillo from Sicily and a glass of tuscan red enhanced our very good lunch. The bill arrived with the startling revelation that the prosecco cocktail commanded a £16.50 tariff which with service totalled £18.50

I'm not a prosecco specialist, but do know that it takes some bravery to throw that on the bill without forewarning. 

I wish I could say an enjoyable lunch, because the food is good and the service not bad if rather over the top. Sadly, it felt like daylight robbery and the preserve of lost tourists wandering the area having heard Charlotte St is a good for a shot at local London, when in fact it is typical of how to get fleeced in London. Never to be repeated 

Alex G

07 January 2020  
Food & Drink 4
Service 2
Atmosphere 3
Value 3
Mamma Mia!

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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020 3995 6224 020 3995 6224

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