LDNReview

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image
8.2

Carlotta

Italian

Marylebone

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersPeople WatchingSee And Be SeenSpecial Occasions
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Carlotta is unapologetically over the top. Big booths, big ego, big diva energy. The Italian spot in Marylebone is packed with people taking pictures of themselves in all the mirrored surfaces and the more-is-more space. A meal here is a fun experience that involves being wrapped up in a loud, lavish world for a few hours. And it doesn’t matter that the food is, ultimately, pretty average.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image
Carlotta image
Carlotta image
Carlotta image
Carlotta image

Outlandish taste is what we’ve come to expect from a Big Mamma restaurant (of Ave Mario and Circolo Popolare fame). Hands are washed at a basin overlooked by a virgin Mary statue straddling the taps, praying for your (planned) candid Instagram story to go viral. Upstairs in the main dining room, it’s all draped, silk fabric on the walls and vintage photos of glamorous couples smoking as they get married. After a few cocktails in extravagant glasses, we usually feel the urge to start art directing a group photo shoot. Especially when the upbeat staff start serving pasta tableside with the kind of theatrics usually reserved for school drama productions. We’d avoid sitting in the midnight blue basement, with futuristic curved walls, which has a touch of Star Trek about it.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta image
Carlotta image
Carlotta image

The food, like any proper diva, is temperamental but fun. A ridiculous, over-the-top but tasty wedding cake is unsheathed at the table and dolloped onto plates in a mess of meringue and strawberry jam; a chicken parmigiana oozes cheese but looks better than it tastes; and a virgin coco-loco cocktail is better than the real deal and comes in a head-shaped glass. Your safest bet is the fettuccine alfredo al tartufo which is dramatically tossed tableside in an oversized skillet, and served with a flourish. It sums up the best of Carlotta—creamy, rich, and deeply theatrical.

Food Rundown

Piattino Aperitivo

In general the sharing, picky, antipasti plates are a let down at Carlotta. The mozzarella isn’t as creamy as it should be, the meats are OK, and the grissini wrapped in prosciutto is a waste of stomach space. It’s worth avoiding to free you up for better things on the menu.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Fettuccine Alfredo Al Tartufo

This pasta comes in an unnecessarily large pan. It’s served by a waiter who takes on the role of Rafiki and spoons the pasta skyward like it’s Simba on the day of his birth. It makes you want to break out in song, but mainly it makes you want to document the moment for Instagram. As well as being lots of fun, it’s incredibly tasty, with truffle butter clinging to glossy noodles and fresh white truffle scattered on top.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Spaghetti With Meatballs

Simplicity isn’t Carlotta’s strong suit and everything about this dish is overworked. The tomato sauce is too sweet, the added ‘nduja and spianata in the meatballs brings a welcome addition of spice, but probably wouldn’t be necessary if the balls themselves were juicy and the sauce was balanced.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Il Grande Parma Caesar

We’re embarrassed to like this caesar salad as much as we do. It’s like a child has made it and added extras of all the best bits—lots of cheese; huge, crisp sheets of prosciutto; garlicky croutons; and the chicken is breadcrumbed for your pleasure. And it is a pleasure. There’s the right amount of dressing which coats every lettuce leaf without things getting soggy and waterlogged.

Milanese

This dish is fine. Which is probably the worst thing you can say about a place that prides itself on extravagance. The breadcrumbs are a little thick and although the meat is juicy, it isn’t the most flavoursome. We were excited about the addition of pancetta—the meaty parcel promised so much—but in practice it was also underwhelming.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Carlotta’s Wedding Cake

We can’t imagine Carlotta would ever be tempted by something as passé as a monogamous long-term relationship, but if she was, this would be her wedding cake. Layers of meringue dissolve on the tongue and light clouds of almond génoise are slathered with a fruity coulis. Basically, it’s a victoria sponge that’s grown-up and seen some things.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Coco-Loco

The virgin cocktails at Carlotta are delicious, particularly the coco-loco. Nutty vanilla from the tonka bean coconut cream plays well with the sweet pineapple juice, plus it comes in a pleasingly outrageous head-shaped cup.

Carlotta image

photo credit: Koray Firat

Gelato Al Pistacchio

There are no gimmicks or novelty additions here, just a creamy, smooth scoop of ice cream with a frozen drizzle of pistachio spread and some crunchy pieces scattered on top. But the chances of having any room left at the end of a meal at Carlotta are the same as finding a flat in London within budget where the toilet isn’t in the hallway.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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