Review: Carlotta

Fans of the Big Mamma way will love this new opening in Marylebone

Glowing bright on Marylebone High Street, this glitzy Italian restaurant has quickly made its mark on the area since opening in May this year. The fifth opening from the Big Mamma Group (the brains behind Gloria, Circolo Popolare and Kensington’s latest offering, Jacuzzi) Carlotta introduces Italian heat to London chic and provides all the exquisite flavours, fun and Instagram-worthy interiors (take your phone to the bathroom) you’d expect. Born and raised in Napoli, Carlotta’s executive chef Armando di Costanzo pays homage to the country’s famous culinary culture with a menu inspired by his Nonna’s 1950s trattoria.

Although the food alone is enough reason to visit, the interiors are just as much of a pull – the world of Carlotta is a magical and glamorous one filled with draped gold fabric, boxing memorabilia, floor length mirrors and soft mood lighting, with vintage Italian wedding photos adorning the walls. Diners are met by a striking gold bar – a clear message that there’s a new class of restaurant in town, elevating the neighbourhood’s reputation even higher. We’re greeted warmly when we arrive, and shown to our seats underneath the skylight; the vibe is chilled, and the air filled with ambient chatter and music. From our vantage point cocooned in a soft leather lined booth, we are perfectly placed for soaking up the atmosphere.

The food at Carlotta is unmistakably Italian – expect large portions intended for sharing, and classic favour combinations with a twist. Our experience begins with a delicious Lo Sgroppino cocktail and traditional Italian hospitality-sized starters. Our table fills with the juiciest garlic and chilli Gioconda and Nocellara olives from Sicily; arancini balls that are perfectly fried with soft, gooey middles; a plump, luscious burrata; and a delightful tempura shrimp cocktail. The latter is served in a glass with Marie Rose sauce – simple and elegant, it is unbelievably refreshing. We also tuck into crusty homemade sourdough bread spread generously with herb-whipped butter.

Next up, a huge bowl of spaghetti topped with the finest Mazara prawns from the waters of Sicily. Diners are encouraged to squeeze the heads into the sauce; the result is deeply flavourful and perfectly complemented by a glass of Campania’s crisp white Falanghina wine. The Il Grande Parma salad is served in as generous a portion as the name suggests, drizzled lightly with a homemade anchovy Caesar dressing and topped with crispy prosciutto and chicken, orange yolked eggs and 22-monthaged Parmigiano flakes. We round off our mains with a large helping of an old favourite, beef carpaccio, which more than lives up to expectations with melt in the mouth wafers of rare beef topped with shavings of Parmesan, livened up with rocket and generously doused in a sweet balsamic glaze.

If you can, save space for dessert; the dolci trio of desserts includes a soft and creamy tiramisu, which tastes excellent, exactly as you’d expect, but the chocolate tart is our favourite – its rich and silky-smooth texture is balanced exquisitely with a shot of espresso.

At Carlotta you can’t help but feel like one of the Big Mamma family. The staff are fantastic, and the presentation and quality of the food can’t be faulted. If you’re hungry and in the mood for authentic Italian food, the Carlotta experience will not disappoint.

77-78 Marylebone High Street, W1U (