I was going to say you can’t miss L’Anima. But that is not strictly true. My friend, looking for a cosy, intimate Italian restaurant, walked right past it.
L’Anima deep in the City of London is neither cosy nor intimate. It is however, sophisticated and elegant. With huge plate glass windows looking out onto Snowden St, the gleaming chrome, the white tables with their white leather chair seats, its walls made from brown porphyry and its limestone travertine floor it could almost be described as austere. Designed by Claudio Silvestrin L’Anima is stunningly contemporary, in keeping with the city’s modern office blocks and skyscrapers.
However, it has to be said that there was nothing austere either about the food, the welcome we received or the super-efficient but friendly, charming and helpful service.
L’Anima, is Italian for ‘Soul’. It is a good name for this restaurant as Executive Chef Francesco Mazzei and his talented team of chefs obviously put their hearts and souls into creating wonderful plates of food. The dishes are deliciously rustic but with a contemporary twist and presentation that elevates them into something truly special. Ingredients are sourced from around Britain and Italy interpreting dishes from Calabria, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. There is an extensive wine list with many of them coming from lesser known regions such as Calabria, Lombardia, Emilia Romana.
By all accounts Franceso began his passion for cooking as a child alongside his mother and later in his uncle’s Gelateria. From there his culinary feet have hardly left the kitchen floor and the places where he has worked are a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the hotel and restaurant world. He has taken part in many TV shows including Celebrity MasterChef, Market Kitchen and Saturday Kitchen. In 2008 he opened L’Anima.
Apart from the more formal restaurant there is also the stylish bar area for an aperitif or a less formal lunch. In the evening the bar is a popular venue for city workers popping in for a glass of wine or cocktail prior to going home. It offers the restaurant’s A la Carte menu as well as a special set menu for both lunch and dinner. Two courses £16.50, three courses £19.50 – including a glass of house white or red wine.
We ate from the three course special set menu and the food was delicious. We tried to choose different dishes so we could sample as much as possible. The menus change on a regular basis, but when we were there a thick soup of veg, pulses and purple potatoes was on offer – fabulous; the salmon and chicken were perfect and the desserts…! Oh yes, we had desserts, even if we had to waddle to the underground we were not missing out on those desserts.
Our criticism of the restaurant is that on a busy lunch time service it is noisy. Nevertheless we loved it.
L’Anima: 1 Snowden St, London EC2A 2DQ. Tel: 020 7422 7000