"... seems to have hit the local needs on the head."Review Rating: Reviewed by All In London
Hidden in the depths of busy businessy Regents Place and just opposite Great Portland Street Station – you’ll find London’s first ever Giovanni Rana restaurant.
You may have heard of the name – it has graced the packaging of leading Pasta brands in super markets for years, with the smiling face of the actual Giovanni Rana beaming out at you. Now, the man behind those dishes has decided to open up a restaurant in the capital.
Walking along Regent’s Place, it’s a bit easy to miss Giovanni Rana. Whilst the likes of Pret' and Pod are located on the piazza, this Italian-style eatery – although huge when you finally do spot it - is tucked a little further down the walk towards Great Portland Street.
Walk in and you’ll find the buzz immediately take you over. It’s bright, spacious and the natural wood and white flooring and walls feel clean, minimal and welcoming. a tiled floor create a sharp, minimalist feel. To the far left there are large windows surrounding the kitchen – if you’re a fan of watching your food being cooked, you could even sit at the counter surrounding the windows,
Depending on whether you’re after a sit-down meal with others or if it’s a quick bite you’re after, there are plenty of tables for the former, or a
The aforementioned bar/counter seating area for the latter (although not all mean you have to watch the food being cooked).
There are many tables to choose from – from window seats, to platform areas looking across the restaurant. There are even two private function rooms if you need some privacy – perfect for a lunch meeting, of which Regent’s Place must see many.
And then… there’s the food. Giovanni Rana caters for the workers of Regent’s Place from 8am. So if it’s an Oats or Porridge brekkie you want, they have it on the menu. Alongside fruit, scrambled eggs, ciabatta bread, smoked salmon and more.
And for lunch, my mouth watered at the Scamorza to start. It’s a soft cheese served with roasted pumpkins and rocket. And it’s as delicious as it sounds. Of course, the classics like Crostini and Olives are also available upon request.
Moving on to the mains and it’s a toss up between the classic pasta dishes of Pappardelle Al Ragu D’Anatra (Pasta with duck ragu) or going all out with the Stincotto Di Agnello. That’s lamb shank in tomato sauce and with mashed potato to you and me.
I went for the lamb shank and as someone who regularly enjoys lamb, I know it’s not often you get the perfect melt away piece of meat. On this occasion, Giovanni Rana came thumbs up with the perfect slices literally sliding off the bone.
Colleagues joining me lapped up the duck ragu and Tagliatelle al Pollo – a classic choice of tagliatelle with chicken and creamy artichoke sauce. It seemed even the tried and tested classics go down well here.
And finally we ended our meal with a desert. Only, what with the choice of gelato and sorbet, creamy coffee pannacotta and homemade lemon and almond cake – we weren’t sure where to start. So we went for the Caffe Del Buongustaio – that’s the trio if desert teasers – all within a cup the size of a shop glass. Just the perfect amount when you’ve over splurged on the mains.
The man opposite me at this time though appeared to be in heaven while enjoying a plate of the Profiteroles Bianco – that’s profiteroles filled with white chocolate. Admittedly, there was food envy.
Washing those down with a coffee was perfect – although the choice ranged from hot chocolate and soft drinks to wine and even Sambucca. There is everything from beer to assorted liquor on the menu if you’re up for a more hardcore evening too.
And with the meal over. I took one sweeping look around Giovanni Rana. The chefs laughed happily as they cooked in their glassy kitchen, the punters at the bar sat happily munching on Lasagne and reading the papers. And a worker ducked in the back entrance and grabbed himself a yoghurt and Limoncello from the take away fridge before dashing back to his desk (I assume that’s where he headed). It seems Giovanni here has managed to cater for everyone in this up-and-coming area of Regent’s Place pretty well – and he seems to have hit the local needs on the head.
All In London reviewed Giovanni Rana on Tue 10 Jan 2012