Welcome to my thesis, In Defence Of Silly Restaurants.
The first thing you need to know is that Ave Mario is a Silly Restaurant. Its three separate themed areas go from Tuscan trattoria to ‘70s disco pad quicker than you can say Calm Your Tits. Yes, that’s the name of one of the cocktails and it comes in a jug decorated with a pair of perky… well you can probably guess. It’s a masterclass in daft glamour, party potential, and Italian food that has been given a truffle sidekick for no apparent reason. And London, I bloody love it.
After entering through a set of double doors on Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, you are now entirely at the mercy of a 300-seat restaurant that operates as a x_LIMONCELLO_GLOW_x Instagram filter. The first space is all back to back red velvet booths, crisp white table cloths, and a floor-to-ceiling mirrored bar. Go down a set of stairs and you’re on the Amalfi coastline. Rattan chairs not your thing? Keep walking. The basement is the Studio 54 x parmesan collaboration our sad little London hearts deserve. Pick your destination, no passport necessary.
Now is the time to mention that this limoncello-soaked looker is from the Big Mamma restaurant group. They’re the people behind Gloria, Circolo Popolare, and other XXL trattorias dotted around Europe. We’ve queued. We’ve cursed. But now, all is forgiven because Ave Mario is bigger, better, and importantly, you can book.
The food at Ave Mario is all about the three cs. Carbohydrates, cheese, and celebration. Think charred pizza dough accessorised with bougie fior di latte and mafaldine dressed up in its truffle glad rags. But for the love of all things meringue, save room for dessert. Pudding is two-parts sugar rush and one-part theatre. The ginormous chocolate gelato cake is wheeled through the restaurant on its own trolley like some VIP guest of honour, leaving open mouths and gasps in its wake.
Is all of this sounding like your worst nightmare? That’s OK. Ave Mario isn’t a restaurant that will please everyone. If you like small portions and polite chatter, move along. But if you’re looking for somewhere that can offer you memorable pasta and a memorable neon-light rainbow bathroom selfie session, this Italian bonanza is most definitely for you. Ave Mario makes crafting the perfect party restaurant look easy. And there’s nothing silly about that.
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Oh Burrata, Olive You
Ave Mario might not be a serious establishment but it is serious about quality ingredients. This particularly milky burrata will set you up nicely for a meal as OTT as the setting.
Mafaldine Al Tartufo
This mafaldine is easily one of my top five pastas in London. Rich, creamy, an al dente bite, and enough quality truffle to make you feel like a functioning fancy adult.
Linguine Al Pesto Rosso
Edible evidence that Ave Mario can do simplicity, it just doesn’t want to. Air kisses all round. One for any and all vegetarians who also stand in solidarity with silly restaurants.
She’s Your Lobster
Whoever came up with this pasta dish deserves a lifetime’s supply of limoncello. It’s just so… Ave Mario. The whole lobster adds a salty juice to the datterini tomato sauce and it’s the perfect order for any prospective lovebirds who know that having crustacean juice on your chin is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Spice Up Your Life
Enter the Spice Up Your Life, with its full-throttle doughy crust and pockets of refreshing basil. It’s all topped off with a heat-respite parmigiano fondue. Because Ave Mario.
Giant Stracciatella Gelato
The only dessert we’ve ever encountered that causes Madonna’s Like A Prayer to instantly start playing in our heads. Creamy fior di latte gelato meets crunchy stracciatella chocolate, portioned to feed the entirety of the Squadra Azzurra football team. I close my eyes, heaven help me etc.