A sunny slice of Sicily in Fitzrovia .
The restaurant-lined streets of the stylish neighbourhood of Fitzrovia, just north of Oxford Circus, make it a popular choice for London’s foodies and this charming Italian hotspot is one of our favourites. The Big Mamma Group, behind smash-hit Gloria in Shoreditch, has created something even bigger and better, bringing a glamorous slice of sun-drenched Sicily to Fitzrovia. You’re instantly transported to warmer shores the moment the unassuming vine-clad door swings open into the all singing and dancing wonderland that is Circolo Popolare.
A riotous affair of colour and kitsch, this 280 cover all-day restaurant is a true showstopper. The decor is seriously maximalist, with chandeliers twinkling amongst the wisteria, 20,000 bottles lining the floor to ceiling shelves, vibrant wicker sofas, stone booths and flowers galore. The atmosphere is teeming with excitement, chatter and the clink of glasses. One thing’s for sure; everyone’s having a good time.
The menu is a playful Italian extravaganza. Highlights include the burrata with a pesto heart, best mopped up with a hunk of fresh ciabatta or the chopped salad served family-style in a beautiful hand-painted nonna style bowl. ‘La Gran Carbonara’ is the star of the show, theatrically tossed in a giant wheel of pecorino, this unctuous and indulgent pasta is more than enough for two.
Whilst the metre-long pizzas topped with the likes of San Marzano tomato and creamy burrata from Puglia, are a winner with the glamorous gaggles of millennials making an impossibly huge amount of noise. The brunch menu is as glitzy as you’d expect, with the eggs alla fiorentina being our favourite, best accompanied by a mimosa, or two. The best bit? The prices are millennial-friendly too.
Despite boasting one of the largest dining spaces in the capital, the service is superb. The effervescent team of Italians flying around the restaurant are predictably charming, expertly versed in the zany cocktail menu and insist on bringing you limoncello. Opt for the Pinky Promise Margarita, or the seriously punchy Big Fish if there’s a crowd.
Be absolutely certain to save room for dessert, as the Instagram famous lemon meringue pie is as super sized and unbelievably light and fluffy as the 4.3K hashtags would suggest, the refreshingly bitter tiramisu is excellent too.
So what’s the but? There is one, and only one, the notorious waiting list. Bag yourself a table by opting for a (very) early dinner, doors open for their dinner service at 5.15pm and we would recommend being there on the dot. The exclusivity is part of the appeal, sunny afternoons see the queue supplied with slices of pizza and cocktails, what’s not to like?
Unlike so many millennial Instagram fads, Circolo Popolare exceeds expectations in every possible way, you really do have to see it to believe it. La Dolce Vita indeed.
40-41 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HX
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