With almost every table populated by white or pink shirted city gents, suit jackets strewn lazily over the backs of their chairs, this is clearly a restaurant that attracts members from the higher echelons of London’s business elite.
One of the reasons is self-evident even before a course is served. Positioned slap bang in the heart of the city, L’Anima is a convenient choice for a lunch or post-work meal, with its light, spacious and airy dining room and floor-to-ceiling windows offering an ideal atmosphere to escape the claustrophobia of the office.
Indeed, the restaurant’s interior is a major plus-point with stylish grey slate walls lit up by gleaming white leather and chrome chairs and plenty of glass. Designed by Milan-born Claudio Silvestrin, better known for his art gallery designs and his work on the Armani shops, the restaurant has a quintessentially Italian style.
The other crucial reason for the restaurant’s success is the sheer quality of the food. Under the command of award-winning head chef Francesco Mazzei, L'Anima (Italian for ‘soul’) delivers mouth-watering dishes using exceptional ingredients from around Britain and Italy. His methods involve interpreting dishes from the Italian regions of Calabria, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia.
Stand out dishes include charcoal scallops with n'duja (spicy spreadable salami) and salsa verde, wild herbs tortelli with balsamic vinegar and wood-roasted turbot with cherry tomatoes and clams. For desert, a blueberry soufflé was executed with just the right amount of finesse to deliver a lightness that complimented the heartiness that had come before.
After the meal, a tour was provided by the restaurant’s sommelier Alessandro Bianchini who showed us L’Anima’s inner sanctum, including a full-to-the-brim wine cellar (as with any Italian restaurant worthy of the name, L’Anima really cares about its plonk), and a private dining space that hosts food and wine tasting evenings. It is truly an impressive space.
Perhaps L’Anima’s greatest mission is to extend itself beyond its current clientele and begin showing up on the radar of foodies beyond the Square Mile. Because a restaurant of this quality should be receiving visitors from far and wide.