Reviewing Gloria, Shoreditch

UK off-shoot of French culinary giant Big Mamma hits the right notes.

The hot ticket right now in the London dining scene, Gloria Trattoria, is the first UK venture of famed French restaurant group Big Mamma (wait….shouldn’t that be Maman?) Sidenote: I wanted to check if there WAS an actual big mamma in the kitchen but the waiting staff seemed too busy to be asked. Maybe next time.

The vibe here is Amalfi-style dining, with a selection of pizzas and pastas on the menu that you’d find in and around the Campania region of Italy. So popular is this spot that even trying to get a lunchtime reservation is proving difficult, so the best bet is to book ahead or just go along and chance it. I managed to get an 11.45 slot for myself and two dining companions, which was probably the earliest i’ve ever had lunch. Actually that’s a lie, I think I once ate a day-old hamburger at 10am but that’s another story…

The interior design here is spot on – it’s a mix of classical luxury with a hint of cool and casual, and staff are all dressed in pastel colours (apart from one in gym gear…curious) to complement the ethos. Waiters are friendly and attentive, and you’re greeted by a chorus of “buongiornos” before you’ve even reached your table.

Food is good – the pasta dishes are a mix of classics: from a meaty lasagne (ten layers of meatiness), to a decent carbonara, and some newer dishes: like the rabbit and polenta ravioli which for me was the standout plate. It formed one long pasta shape curled up, that you could probably unravel and wear as a necklace. Portions could be more generous though which is often the failing of Italian places in London – we want pasta and lots of it!

Booze here is a winner, the bar is so well stocked it actually spills out into the main restaurant, and the cocktails look delicious. I couldn’t partake due to the fact it was still technically morning, but next time i’m planning on getting suitably sloshed. Desserts too looked decent but nothing really jumped off the page (although the 5inch and over lemon meringue pie will rise high above the table like mount Vesuvius) so we paid and left – £50 for three people, without any alcohol.

All in all this place does deserve the hype because it knows what it is, a mid to high-range Italian that sits comfortably in east London away from its rivals that tend to be situated in the west. Without being overwhelmingly authentic I can still see Gloria thriving, and probably forming the first of many places Big Mamma (whoever she may be…) will open this side of the channel.