For a neat shorthand to describe the cooking at Luca, you can do worse than the portmanteau ‘Britalian’. It’s a restaurant that follows in the footsteps of The River Café and Theo Randall at the InterContinental, of British chefs cooking great Italian food.
Launched back in 2016, Luca is the second venture from chef Isaac McHale and his partners Johnny Smith and Daniel Willis – the trio behind The Clove Club in Shoreditch, which holds two Michelin stars and has previously featured on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. By contrast, Luca is a more casual sibling, with a focus on à la carte dining and featuring a more boisterous atmosphere. It’s a restaurant intended to completement The Clove Club, rather than compete with it.
The kitchen, led by former RAC and The Ledbury chef Robert Chambers, specialises in serving high-quality ingredients from around the British Isles that are interpreted through an ‘Italian lens – hence the ‘Britalian’ label. Pasta and antipasti options are both present and correct, with the menu also featuring a variety of meat and seasonal seafood dishes such as scallops from Orkney, Hebridean lamb, and turbot from Cornwall. The cooking, as you would expect from a restaurant of such pedigree, is skilful, combining both traditional and contemporary elements to great effect.
The restaurant’s design supplements the food neatly, too. Its cavernous interior – the restaurant holds more than 125 covers – is smart and sophisticated. Split between multiple sections, it’s brought together with a visual identity inspired by 1950s art deco Italian graphic design and typography, which underpins the ‘Britalian’ approach.
Luca is a commanding, confidently run restaurant, and one that, as its recent accreditation from Michelin proves, is still going from strength to strength.