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An institution much loved by its elegant local regulars and occasional celebrities, Riva is renowned for simple, well-prepared Italian cooking. It’s not wildly better than others, nor wildly more expensive (though the menu and notable wine list take no prisoners), and its unassuming, slightly scruffy terracotta surroundings are no more chic. What distinguishes the place is its charismatic owner, Andrea Riva, who has a knack of remembering names, faces and food preferences. He’s prepared to go off-menu for favoured diners, recommending whatever he knows will suit them – so dinner can be exceptionally personal. The rest of us must choose from a list where risottos and the roast suckling pig attract praise, and the tiramisu provides a satisfactory ending. The pallyness can wind up some newcomers, who feel excluded from the inner circle and who know there are only two ways in – either become a regular or become famous.
020 8748 0434
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