Places To Eat In London: La Goccia, Covent Garden
I know it seems crazy for me to say as a massive part of my day to day is reviewing many of London’s new openings, but I think I have London restaurant fatigue. I don’t think places that are that new or exciting are opening as much anymore; everything has become a bit cookie cutter. That being said, I think the entire foodie city was excited for Petersham Nurseries to come to Covent Garden (aka somewhere much easier to get to than Richmond!) and while I’ll save a review of their fine dining for another day, I must say the dinner I had a few weeks ago now at La Goccia, their new casual Italian small plates place really stuck with me. It got me excited to eat out in London again, and that is proving rather difficult at the moment!
After checking out the Italian deli out front and the lovely courtyard hidden away from the bustle of the street (which will be perfect for summertime aperitivo) we settled down at our table with a beautiful bottle of white (which we chatted about with our server – not only is the service at La Goccia flawless, but it is also a casual in a way that so many places just don’t manage) to peruse the menu. it was recommended to us we get something from the fried/ snack section, some bread, a pizzetta and a couple of salads and small plates.
All of the food came at once, which was really impressive. The foccacia was soft, plump and full of flavour, and I really loved the beautiful plate of grilled squid served with blistered cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of peppery olive oil. However, get this one to share and dive in quickly as it goes from being a fantastic dish to not being very enjoyable as it cools rapidly.
The fried chicken was something else. Crisp on the outside (without being greasy at all) and juicy and tender on the inside, it had just a hint of cardamom perfuming every piece, such a small amount you had to think for a moment what it was, but enough to simply transform the chicken from just well executed to extraordinary. That, paired with a vibrant wild garlic aioli made this a beautiful dish, both in flavour and presentation. The courgette, olive and mozzarella pizzetta was lovely, but it did not blow me away like the chicken.
The final two dishes we selected were just as fantastic as the chicken. First: just how beautiful is the spring panzanella, chock full of seasonal veggies and flowers dressed simply, and prepared in the most charming way. A picture on a plate, and I promise you that it tasted as good as it looked! Equally, the simple ricotta ravioli swimming (in a good way)in sage butter was just perfect. The pasta was rich with just that right amount of bite, and the melt in the mouth, creamy ricotta filling had us going back for bite after bite.
To be perfectly honest, we were completely full after all of that food, but judging by the quality of all of our small plates we figured that missing out on dessert would be a total mistake. So, to share we ordered both gelato and both sorbets off of the menu, served in two bowls with a hazelnut stuffed wafter in each. The chocolate gelato and lemon sorbet were the very best examples of what you’d expect, but it was the mango sorbet, so impossibly full of nectar and the stupidly rich, nutty and creamy pistachio gelato that totally blew us away. Like us, even if you’re totally full stay for dessert.
A few places to eat out in London that I have reviewed this year and that I totally love, and that I promise you you won’t get ‘restaurant fatigue’ (!) from visiting: Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill (go for the traditional dishes on the menu rather than the mass appeal burgers), Pastaio in Soho, Chicama in Chelsea, Oldroyd in Islington, Snaps + Rye, Westbourne Grove, and Yosma in Marylebone.