LDNReview

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Italian dishes like pasta and pizza on a marble-look table.
7.7

Grasso

ItalianAmerican

Soho

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysCatching Up With MatesCasual Weeknight DinnerDessertDate NightLiterally Everyone
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Grasso is like that friend who you worry about introducing to your other friends. The New York Italian-American spot in Soho does things that annoy you, occasionally makes you cringe, and can be hard to defend—but you always have a good time when you hang out together. There are definitely better pastas out there, but we can’t shake the memory of the outrageous XXL plates of penne alla vodka here. Because sometimes you don’t want what's right, you want what feels good—and eating at Grasso feels pretty great. 

Interior of a restaurant with checkered floor tiling and bottles around a bar.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

A spread of Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs on a marble-look table.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Exterior of a restaurant with a green awning and the word 'Grasso'.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Interior of a restaurant with checkered floor tiling and bottles around a bar.
A spread of Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs on a marble-look table.
Exterior of a restaurant with a green awning and the word 'Grasso'.

Grasso is family-run, but as you look around the massive 180-seater space around the corner from Tottenham Court Road station, you’ll realise it’s less the Weasleys knitting Christmas jumpers and more Beckham empire. As you arrive, several versions of yourself reflected in a chandelier greet you, and later, after fishbowl-sized Aperol spritzes, you’ll stumble upon the disco-themed toilets. Whether you find all the over-the-topness grating or end up performing an impromptu karaoke set is largely determined by a scientific formula involving your star sign and the amount of cocktails you’ve consumed. Personally, it warms our cold little London hearts. 

Grasso image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

A bar stocked with bottles of wines and spirits, and hanging wine glasses.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Interior of a restaurant with red booths.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Grasso image
A bar stocked with bottles of wines and spirits, and hanging wine glasses.
Interior of a restaurant with red booths.

The main dining room is where you’ll have the most fun. Laid-back, smiley servers dispatch laminated, wipe-clean menus, and later, tactfully hang back while you have a mozzarella stick cheese pull moment. A couple getting cuddly over a plate of meatballs look like they could go full Lady and the Tramp at any moment. And a loud birthday party, ordering wine before they’ve even sat down, don’t get any side-eye. There is a strange offshoot room that is small and cold, lit by green LED strip lights. Sitting there feels like you’ve been cancelled. So ask for one of the booths by the kitchen instead, next to the adorable photos of the owners eating spaghetti in their nappies (when they were toddlers). 

A cheese pull from a mozzarella stick.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

A plate of penne alla vodka with a fork lifting up several pieces of pasta.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

A plate of tiramisu with a spoonful taken out and shown in the foreground.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

A cheese pull from a mozzarella stick.
A plate of penne alla vodka with a fork lifting up several pieces of pasta.
A plate of tiramisu with a spoonful taken out and shown in the foreground.

The comforting Italian-American dishes are the kind your mum might have made to cheer you up after a disastrous maths test. It's not perfect—the pomidori sauces are too sweet and the salads are 90% dressing and 10% lettuce. If you’re looking for exceptional Italian food, look away now. But if you want a fun, easygoing restaurant serving food that’ll fill you up and leave you more comforted than a warm, weighted blanket, go here.

Food Rundown

A plate of four golden mozzarella sticks.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Mozzarella Sticks

If we were to rank London’s molten cheese sticks, these would come out on top. Four fat fingers, with crispy, crunchy edges, on a little pool of thick, spicy ‘nduja sauce and drizzled with honey. Mozzarella sticks have no business being this good.

A plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Mom’s Spaghetti

The sauce is pretty one note, and that note is sweet. It’s a little bland and unbalanced. Plus, the meatballs can be a touch inconsistent. We’ve had them juicy and verging on dry before. While we’d be thrilled if our mums fed us these when we were little, our adult selves need something a little more.

A plate of penne alla vodka.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Penne Alla Vodka

There is something about the glossy, safety-warning-orange of this pasta that makes our heart feel warm and fuzzy. This should definitely be on your table. It’s rich and creamy, a little bit tangy, covered in a snowstorm of pecorino and a scattering of chilli, and the portion size is hefty.

A plate of rigatoni with lamb ragu.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Lamb Ragù Rigatoni

This is probably the most amount of braised, soft meat we’ve ever had in a pasta dish. We love the addition of salty, briny anchovy to balance all the richness too. If you’re rolling with a group, get this and the penne alla vodka and prepare to monopolise both in a way you won’t be proud of.

A plate with fried chicken fillet, lettuce and croutons.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Big Caesar With Herb-Crusted Chicken

You have the option to get this with artichoke or chicken, and the chicken is the correct choice. If you like your salads heavy on dressing, with supersized croutons, and a chicken breast larger than a table tennis bat—you’ll love this. But it does have a tendency to get a bit soggy, so you will need to ask them to go a little easy on the dressing to avoid a flaccid baby gem situation.

A plate piled high with courgette fries.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Fried Zucchini

These are just fine. You’ll pick at the crispy, chip-sized logs and realise you’ve finished the lot when your fingers brush the bottoms of the plate. In the same way as plain peanuts are just OK but we could absentmindedly eat 800 grams of them while watching a film.

A mushroom pizza.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

New New Yorker Pizza

The pizzas at Grasso are a little bit underrated. The dough is nice and tangy with some pleasing charred bubbles around the edge. We liked the toppings on the New New Yorker but wish the confit garlic was less of a wallflower. They aren’t the best pizzas in London, but they’d be perfectly fine to split among a group (while also ordering the pasta).

A plate of tiramisu.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Tiramisu

The tiramisu being this good after so many filling mains feels like a twisted joke. Thick sponge fingers have soaked up the right amount of slightly bitter coffee and the cream isn’t overbearing. We also like the fact that the slightly sloped, irregular edges make it feel like your mum has unceremoniously slotted this out of a big tray.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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