In the first century AD, Caesar Augustus reflected on his decades of rule, with their unfathomable military successes, unprecedented prosperity and unimaginable splendour, and remarked that he “found Rome a city of bricks, and left it a city of marble”.
In 2021, brand chef Remo Mazzucato and executive chef Victor Ravdive strode into the historical linen market on Leadenhall Street and had the same idea. Or at the very least, he used the same interior designer when creating Piazza Italiana.
The counters are black marble. The walls are dappled beige marble. The soaring pillars holding aloft a mosaic ceiling, which could have been modelled on the Pantheon itself, shine in a burnt-earth shade of… you get the picture.
Chef Mazzucato may not end up conquering the known world like the great Optimus Princeps, but my lord he knows his way around a piece of sea bass.
Which happens to be more use in this day and age.
What’s the vibe?
As you may have picked up from the slightly laboured analogy above, it’s a City restaurant with more than a hint of the Eternal City about it. It’s all terracotta shades, bronze busts and pampas grass, a welcome step change from the glass towers and sharp skyscrapers that surround it.
White-gloved waiters will walk you through the wine list, then bring you one of those little folding tables so your bag needn’t suffer the indignity of having to hang off your chair, nor – the horror! – rest on the floor.
The main dining room is impressively grandiose, but upstairs there are a number of private rooms and event spaces, each more intimate than the last. An unseen songstress sings soft jazz to you even as you use the bathroom, and what greater hallmark of luxury can there be than that?
What to order?
The menu takes in dishes from all of Italy, from the luxurious northern-style Entrecote di Manzo (£38) to the seafood-inspired cuisine of the south, and Chef Mazzucato's native Sicily. Of the latter, the Sea Bass Carpaccio smothered in olive oil and lifted with a refreshing burst of lemon in particular is not to be missed.
Pasta options range from clams to lobster to girolle mushrooms, or for a touch of theatre, why not try the tagliolini with black truffle spun in a pecorino wheel at the table.
Will it bankrupt me?
You can probably tell from some of those keywords (truffle, lobster, pampas grass) that it’s on the pricier end. And that’s before you even contemplate the extensive wine list and signature cocktail menu. But happily, it’s the sort of sophisticated fare that will ease the pain of parting with your hard-earned.
Anything else to note?
On the mezzanine level, among the event spaces, you can even find a few examples of that criminally neglected furniture items, the crushed velvet chaise lounge.
Too few corporate events these days have adequate reclining facilities, wouldn’t you say? So don your toga, crank up the lute music and feed me some grapes, we’re going to party like it’s 99AD!
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38 Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8AY; Piazza Italiana