The Locals recently visited the Italian king of fresh pasta, Signor Giovanni Rana’s first UK restaurant, tucked away in London’s Regent Place.
If you’re not familiar with Giovanni Rana, he is considered to be a bit of an institution back in his native Italy renowned for his fresh, rustic, authentic tortelloni. So it will come as no surprise, that we were quite excited to see if his new restaurant would in fact bring a taste of authentic Italy to Londoners.
The restaurant offers three distinctive eating experiences: a traditional Italian trattoria furnished with long, family-sized wooden tables for friendly get-togethers and informal dining; a piazza style area centred around a charcuterie, deli and open kitchen – at the heart of the restaurant, perfect for coffee and pastry mornings, light bites and after-work aperitivo; and finally a cosy private dining area for parties, business lunches and culinary tête-à-têtes. As it was a beautiful evening, my dining partner and I, opted to sit outside on the patio.
As we perused the menu our waiter, Marco (yes he was Italian), came over to help us with our wine selection. He recommended a wine from his home region: Valpolicella Classico Superiore, “Le Bessole.” It was a perfect accompaniment to our meal with notes of stewed cherries, vanilla, roasted espresso beans, and spicebox aromas. The palate was smooth and generous, brimming with ripe supple fruit and mocha followed by a classic, pleasantly bitter finish.
We started our meal with the vegetarian sharing platter, which turned out to almost be a meal in itself. The beautifully presented Wooden platter featured goat and pecorino cheeses served with seasonal chutney, fresh artisan bread, olives, sundried tomatoes, artichoke, and roasted peppers. If you are vegetarian however, you may want to ask them to exclude the pecrino cheese, as it is made from rennet and not actually vegetarian. However, in our case, my dining partner was more than happy to finish off the cheese.
For our mains we had the Pappadelle Al Ragu D’Anatra (Large ribbon pasta with duck ragu) and Gnocchetti Alla Sorrentina (potato dumplings with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil). The Gnocchetti was the only ‘almost’ vegetarian main on the menu, however, they were more than happy to remove the parmesan to make it actually veggie for me. Despite the fact there were limited vegetarian options, the Gnocchetti was easily the best I have had outside of Italy, and is worth a visit to Giovanni Rana alone. My dining partner was equally impressed by the duck ragu and has been raving about it since.
Despite being incredibly full at this point we could not resist the wonderful selection desserts available, including profiteroles bianco, tiramisu, Italian ice creams and sorbets. We shared the profiteroles and the Torta Caprese al Limone. Accompanied by a shot of Limoncello, it was the perfect finish to our meal.
Signor Giovanni Rana, himself commented: “We’re confident that Restaurant Giovanni Rana will be popular with the locals and that London will fall in love with our cuisine! While the quality of our food will hopefully speak for itself, there is also one very important ingredient we put into everything we do – passion!”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Giovanni Rana bring a taste of authentic Italy to the city, paired with great service and a welcoming atmosphere.
Restaurant Giovanni Rana is open Monday to Friday from 8am – 10pm, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.