The best thing about Tavolino is the terrace. Row upon row of green rattan chairs, flirtatious smiles exchanged over courgette fritti, and panoramic views of everyone’s favourite 1886 London poster boy, Tower Bridge. On the right sunny day with the right cold, crisp negroni confuso, Tavolino can feel like heaven. But it is a restaurant that is somewhat reliant on the British weather, which is a bit like saying your tax consultant is Jordan Belfort. It is, undeniably, a risk.
If the weather app is promising you 98% sunshine or your horoscope made reference to ‘opening your heart to risks’ then go ahead and book a table outside at Tavolino. Book it right now, before everyone else has the same epiphany that eating al dente cacio e pepe bucatini and pistachio soft serve while upping your vitamin D intake is a superb idea. The terrace is large and most definitely in charge, but it fills up quickly with mates, dates, and parents with their heads tilted up towards the sun while their kids frolic in the nearby water fountains. It’s all very dolce vita: expert handmade pasta matched with a heartfelt appreciation for mascarpone and the fact that it isn’t pissing it down. Unless of course, it is.
If the sunshine has casually morphed into torrential rain or you’re reading this review in the depths of winter—we’re sorry. But you should know that Tavolino also has two floors of big maroon banquette seating inside. You can still do some satisfying mafaldine fork-twirling and enjoy the heat of the double-whammy spicy pork and ‘nduja ragu tagliatelle. But without the sun, Tavolino loses some of its shine. You’ll realise that your slice of pizza is a little lacklustre and that reeking of crispy garlic potatoes is just, well, sexier in the summer.
This is one Italian spot where perfectly pleasant freshly baked focaccia just can’t beat everyone’s favourite OG hottie, the sun. Don’t get us wrong, Tavolino is still a reliable spot. Hit it up for polite group meals with colleagues centred around a bottle of Chianti or for a last-minute date night that demands tagliolini and a quintessential view of London—just ignore the rain that’s dribbling down the windows.
And even if your approach to risk is decidedly less feral than Jordan Belfort’s, it’s entirely worth taking that gamble with the British weather for one of the best outdoor dining experiences in London.
It would probably be easier for us to lick our own elbows than stop ourselves from eating these. They are crunchy and salty and the courgette—sorry, we are contractually obliged to never use zucchini—is a polite little zesty distraction from the fact you’re mainlining olive oil.
Bucatini Cacio E Pepe
“Is the cacio e pepe at Tavolino the best in London? No. But, importantly, Tavolino’s huge outdoor terrace overlooking Tower Bridge might be our favourite place to eat cacio e pepe. Don’t get us wrong though, they’re generous with the pepper and the bucatini has excellent bite.” - our very official opinion on this bucatini in Where To Eat Cacio E Pepe In London.
Brown Shrimp And Seaweed Butter Tagliolini
Hot tip: listen to Lorde’s Solar Power on your approach to Tavolino’s terrace. It’ll set you up perfectly for this brown shrimp fest that is as simple as it is satisfying. Seaweed butter should be 50% salt, 50% creaminess, and Tavolino gets this version 100% right.
If you want a pizza, get a pizza. Nothing terrible is going to happen, except maybe you end up with a datterini tomato stain on your white linens. But pasta is king at Tavolino, so we’d recommend saving that stomach room for something that will allow you to say ‘al dente baby’ in the sunshine.
Spicy Pork And ‘Nduja Ragu Tagliatelle
Spice up your life, order this. A one-two punch of meat heat with some quality tagliatelle.
Affogato-Pistachio Soft Serve
Oi oi. A marriage of desserts that truly makes the heart swell. Throw some confetti in its honour then get eating before that nutty-in-flavour, Shrek-in-look soft serve melts. We truly respect that this dessert means you don’t have to pick between two classics. Freshly made and churned in-house, it’s a sugar rush, caffeine kick hybrid that will make you smile.