Sitting pretty along the south bank of the river Thames, adjacent to the curved Norman Foster-designed City Hall, Tavolino serves up an unfussy, elevated Italian menu against picture-perfect Tower Bridge views.
Helmed by chef Louis Korovilas, who cut his teeth at Locanda Locatelli, the French Michelin-starred institution Pied Á Terre, and Bancone – where he was Head Chef – Tavolino is guided by Korovilas’ time spent being mentored directly by Giorgio Locatelli and uses some of the finest Italian and local produce on offer.
“I respect the Italian approach to cooking: a dedication to quality ingredients, eaten at their peak, with the flavours coaxed from each one,” says Korovilas. “At Tavolino, we’ll be steering away from overused produce of mediocre quality and have spent the last six months going directly to suppliers who have been perfecting their produce for several generations.” As such, the restaurant’s lemons are sourced directly from a farmer on the Amalfi Coast; the barilotto cheese is made using buffalo milk from Salerno; the burrata is from Puglia, and the ‘nduja is from Spilinga in Italy’s southwestern region of Calabria.
Peruse the concise menu – which is traditionally divided into antipasti, pasta, pizza and secondi – with an aperitivo in hand, such as the refreshing Mediterranean Tonic, made with Gin Mare, orange jam and orange bitters. Then start your feast with the burrata and caponata, or the deliciously crisp sourdough pizzetta, topped with the thinnest shavings of lardo, which should more than satisfy any pizza cravings to make way, instead, for the pasta.
Here, make the most of what’s on offer and order a shared selection such as the wonderfully fresh hand-rolled green pea gnocchi topped with Brunet goat’s cheese and crispy flecks of pancetta; the spicy pork and ‘nduja tagliatelle; and the earthy porcini, ricotta and chestnut ravioli. Follow this with a main course such as the pan-seared sea bream served with agrodolce salad and a simple caper sauce and, for dessert, don’t miss out on the Amaretto panna cotta, enhanced with tangy morsels of torched citrus and mandarin or the ice cream, which, of course, is made in-house.
The interiors, meanwhile, are the work of London and Los Angeles-based studio Fettle, which took its cues from Milanese coffee bars and traditional Florentine trattorias. Spread over two floors, the result is convivial and inviting, the floor-to-ceiling windows framing Tower Bridge views, while shedding natural daylight onto a warm dark timber and leather palette of oxblood and bottle green hues plus details like the patterned sheers that wrap around the ground floor and traditional bentwood dining chairs upholstered in pink mohair.
Outside, the newly opened terrace with its cream, checked wicker chairs and olive trees is the perfect spot to while away warmer days with a negroni and a bite to eat from the new Sicilian menu, available for a limited time over summer. This includes winners such as the Sicilian red prawn bucatini with pistachio, the delicious saffron-glazed monkfish gnocchetti with olives and, to complete the experience, refreshing olive oil ice cream, finished table-side with a generous pour of Planeta extra virgin olive oil.
Tavolino Bar & Kitchen, 2 More London Riverside, SE1 2DB (tavolino.co.uk/020 8194 1037)