Hidden away between the bustling borders of High Holborn and The Strand, Great Queen Street’s Ritorno has got your relaxed Italian eats all wrapped up. The second venue from the restaurant brand following their Chelsea location, its sultry neons and mirrored ceiling certainly give it the look, and we went down to see if the goods match up.
Offering the kind of glistening, luxe interiors that make for excellent ‘look at me now, Ma’ Instagram-stories, the charm here is more than just face value, starting with the fact that every single person that works here is a delight. From smiling hostesses to genial managers, you’re in wonderfully welcoming hands from the off.
Finding a happy medium between the modern small plates trend and good old selfish dining, Ritorno serves up dishes as and when they’re ready - but there’s no obligation to share. While I do look on enviably at the wobbly boulder of burrata (£9.25) that arrives in front of my friend, one bite of the blue-fin tuna tartare (£10.75) and I’m ready to defend what’s mine. Delicacy meets intensity in this twee cake of soft diced fish, which comes served with an aubergine sauce and a wedge of charred lime.
While the interiors may say contemporaneo, the menu keeps things tradizionale for the most part with pizzas, steaming bowls of pasta and hearty mains. The gnocchi alla Sorrentino (£12.25) keeps things simple, homely and covered in melted cheese, as the soft gnocchi comes submerged in rich red sauce and stringy mozzarella. The tonnarelli cacio e pepe (£12.25) is a slurpable marvel of peppery pasta, cut through with salty cheese, and meshes wonderfully with a glass of Casa Lunardi merlot (£7). For dessert, the Diplomatico offers layer upon layer of boozy sponge cake and decadent cream filling, and after a short assessment by the bar manager, serves as the perfect accompaniment to a hot, sugary Bombardino.
The DesignMyNight Digest
With a style and warmth that transcends even its swish interiors, Ritorno Covent Garden is a one-stop shop for delicious Italian food with more than a little flair, eclectic cocktails and some truly charming service.