L’Anima Italian Restaurant

Posted on Sunday, 6th December 2009

The bread basket at L'Anima

The bread basket at L'Anima

If you want to know how to make linguine alle vongole, Francesco Mazzei can be found on YouTube with a series of videos demonstrating what to do. I checked them out myself and it all looked very tasty. Francesco Mazzei is the chef patron of L’Anima, a restaurant located near Broadgate Circus which opened last year to some acclaim. It’s garnered several awards this year, including a 2009 Harden’s Remy Martin Restaurant Award for Excellence.

So I decided to go and see for myself what all the fuss is about. The restaurant is one slick joint, catering to the well padded wallets of the city diner – or rather their expense accounts – so it’s not exactly cheap. Other than me, everyone was pretty much decked out in their city finery during my lunchtime. The restaurant is bright and spacious with a translucent feel to it which comes from the floor to ceiling glass panels that run the entire length of the restaurant. This was all very nice, but it made it rather confusing to find the entrance for the door is glass too. I ended up walking back and forth in front of the restaurant a couple of times, and I assure you it wasn’t just me being ditzy – my dining companion had trouble finding the door as well!

We started with octopus, cannellini beans and ricotta mustia (£15.50). The octopus was tender and nicely crisped, the cannelini beans were flavoursome, and the ricotta was rich with the taste of sheep’s milk. Each individual component of this dish was very nice, although with very little dressing in the salad, the combination of the cheese and the octopus proved to be a pretty dry eating experience. Nothing tasted bad, but you’re basically eating a firm dry cheese with grilled octopus. The dish needed some moisture to help it go down.

Octopus, cannellini beans & ricotta mustia

Octopus, cannellini beans & ricotta mustia

A wild mushroom fettuccine with black truffle starter (£12.50) yielded a lovely mushroom flavour, although it was a little underseasoned and had me reaching for the salt. The fettuccine was also, surprisingly, a little soft – it was too cooked to be considered al dente. With the mushroom and truffle, this was a nice dish, but the too-soft pasta let it down slightly.

Wild mushroom fettuccine with black truffle

Wild mushroom fettuccine with black truffle

A main of fish stew with Sardinian fregola (a lentil shaped pasta) (£23.50) was divine. Hearty, rustic, and filling, it came with some lovely fresh mussels, clams and John Dory. The pasta was cooked beautifully. Smothered in a sauce rich with the flavour of tomato and seafood, it made this dish very satisfying.

Fish stew with Sardinian fregola

Fish stew with Sardinian fregola

A main course serving of taglierini with garlic, chilli and crab (£17.50) was pleasing and light. The crab was flavoursome and mellow, and there was a gentle appetitising kick from the garlic and chilli. This was a very pleasant pasta course.

Taglierini with garlic, chilli & crab

Taglierini with garlic, chilli & crab

Breads were delicious and included a wonderfully soft focaccia that was so moist it was almost dreamy.

Dessert was an amaretto soufflé with amaretto sauce (£9.50). This was a very well made dessert. I couldn’t fault it technically and I have had many average soufflés. It was moist and not too eggy. The flavour of the amaretto was well balanced and did not overwhelm the palate.

Amaretto soufflé

Amaretto soufflé

Service was, like the décor in the restaurant, very slick. It was excellent and extremely professional, in the way that one would expect from a high end City restaurant.

Overall, this was an excellent meal. Although I thought the octopus dish would have worked better with more moisture, and that the fettucine could have been less cooked, I wasn’t really let down by the starters. Rather I had expected them to be a little bit better. But all said, you can tell that what comes out of the kitchen is generally excellent – a polished cooking technique applied to great ingredients to produce clean, yet distinctive flavours. Some of the other main courses looked fantastic, and I would happily go back again to explore more of the other dishes from the menu.



Summary information

Food rating:
Service rating:

Price range: £28 to £57 for 3 courses.

Rating:★★★★☆ 
Rating:★★★★☆ 

Website: http://www.lanima.co.uk/

L'Anima on Urbanspoon

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6 Responses to “L’Anima Italian Restaurant”

  1. Loving Annie Says...

    How would you compare it with Zafferano for the pastas ?

  2. A Girl Has to Eat Says...

    Hi Loving Annie,
    It’s great to hear from you. I haven’t been to Zafferano for years so I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to compare the two. But the pastas at L’Anima are fresh and simple with clean flavours.

    Are you scouting for restaurants for your next visit here to London?

  3. S Lloyd Says...

    It’s being a while I haven’t gone there. Thanks for the review. I am definitely adding it back to the list of my restaurant to visit on my next trip there.

  4. Jill Says...

    H AGHE – nice to meet you last night! I also found the pasta a bit overcooked! For mains I had seabass, which was light and tasty, but no real wow factor. Dessert was ice cream which they literally spilled down my back (yes accidents do happen!). All in all I thought mine was a good meal, but not up to the hype I’d heard about l’Anima. I’d go if someone else were paying, but I wouldn’t stump up for it on my own dime!
    Jill

  5. Andrea Petersen Says...

    Another one on my hit list that I now want to go to MORE haha. I am such a pasta lover and both your wild mushroom fettuccine and chilli and crab linguine look and sound sensational! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

  6. Gentlemen's Luncheon Club Says...

    We’ve just published an exclusive video interview with Lello, L’Anima’s Head Chef on our website. Let us know what you think!