Kitchen Italia

Kitchen Italia



41 Earlham Street

Covent Garden

The advertisement in the cramped lift at Covent Garden tube, gave me a clue as to the dining experience I was about to embark upon. Kitchen Italia is the newly opened baby sister to the, now one-year-old restaurant based at Westfield shopping centre, Shepherds Bush, London. The Covent Garden basement version is a bright white and clean lines affair, with long bench tables of diners. I would liken it to a Mediterranean version of noodle chain Wagamama, and with Wagamama restaurants popping up all over the world, it could be a successful recipe to follow.

We were there to sample the full menu but the atmosphere of Kitchen Italia, Covent Garden was that of a “drop in with mates eatery.” The menu, the restaurant's reservation policy and its meal deal for theatre goers, all reflect this trend. As with Wagamama, the food comes out as soon as it’s ready instead of in courses. 

As you would expect with Italian food, although vegetarians aren't always catered for, there were plenty of dishes to choose from. What was unusual for a restaurant that identifies as Italian, was its very small selection of pizza-style starters. Clearly their priority lies with pasta. We shared a selection of antipasti side dishes, warm foccacia (£2.45), parmesan and mozzarella risotto balls (£3.95), and torn buffalo mozzarella (£3.25). The communal act of eating at Kitchen Italia is in the design. Your table comes replete with four flavours of olive oil, parmesan with grater and pots of basil ready for you to pick and add to your dish. It works well - the oils were good, the basil was fresh and we could add as much parmesan as we liked to our dishes.

The same couldn’t be said for my poor focaccia which was unfortunately crumbly and dry. The risotto balls however were cheese-filled and tasty, and although the ‘torn mozzarella’ wasn’t torn and didn’t have quite the punch of good Neapolitan stuff, its texture was perfect.

As the focus of the Kitchen Italian is pasta, we carefully chose a tiger prawn, chilli and garlic with chitarra angel-hair pasta (house favourite) and the special of goats cheese tortellini with a chutney-like sauce, rocket and parmesan. My chitarra was perfectly Al dente, the sauce had a good heat for the cold night in question, and there were a decent amount of large fresh prawns – I can see why it’s a popular dish. My veggie friend's meal was delicious too, not to mention very filling. The large tortellini of salty goats cheese was well balanced with the fresh rocket and the sweet chutney. 

Beyond this, all I could manage was some palate-cleansing lemon sorbet and a short espresso. The vegetarian couldn’t pass up trying the hot crispy chocolate ravioli with Bacio ice cream (£4.95). They tasted similar to an Italian favourite of mine Crostoli, but I’m not sure my Nonna would approve. According to our waiter it was a must try but it was a bit too much for me.

Kitchen Italia isn't the kind of restaurant where you bed down for the night and linger over every single mouthful. Express food is the notion here. Drop into Kitchen Italia to fuel up with one of their 16 nourishing bowls of pasta and a well-made espresso, then head off to whatever you've planned for the rest of the night. This place is a speedy way to fill your belly.

A three course meal for two including coffee will set you back by around £40. Our 525ml carafe of red Valpolicella was £14.95.

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**Reviewed by:** Anne Giacomantonio