Gloria’s arrival in London has been hard to miss. An Italian trattoria in Shoreditch, this (attention-seeking) haunt comes to us from the Big Mamma Group in Paris. An unlikely spot for Italian, you might think, but having enjoyed an evening at the very high-concept Obermamma in Paris last year I’m happy to report it was an absolute triumph and I was excited to hear about its opening closer to home.
The London outpost is designed to be a lot of fun. Even its exterior façade is a hoot: dressed with sunshine yellow awnings, ivy-covered walls, and dozens of terracotta pots overflowing with greenery, Gloria refuses to blend into the industrial archetype of East London. The exterior screams out to you on the otherwise rather grim Great Eastern Street between Old Street and Shoreditch High Street.
The dining rooms inside are equally lavish: the one upstairs is coated in marble, with ’50s-style fittings and explosions of flowers, whilst the downstairs space, where my companion and I secured a table for the evening, is darker and moodier, a more ’70s-esque space with a sunken open kitchen, and a mirrored ceiling reflecting the ornately decorated carpeting below. This area is probably the most fun as guests can enjoy the full theatre of the chefs working at the pizza oven, filling whole parmesan rinds with spaghetti carbonara, slicing up portions of the mountainous lemon meringue pie and serving tiramisu at the table.
Given its picture-perfect interiors, Gloria has fast become a must-visit haunt and I’m pleased to report that the queues are worth the wait. Since its launch in March, much of Great Eastern Street has seen a queue skirting around Gloria, partly due to the restaurant’s no-bookings policy and partially down to the warm welcome the venue has received from restaurant critics and Instagram snappers alike. Expecting a long wait given my arrival time of 7.15pm, I wasn’t surprised when I was initially told that I wouldn’t be seated before 9.30pm. However, after working some restaurant charm, I was led downstairs by a very friendly Italian waiter and offered a table in front of the kitchen itself. What’s more, I was offered a glass of prosecco whilst I waited for my companion to arrive! I loved this place already.
Overseen by Big Mamma chef Filippo La Gattuta, the menu is vast and demands repeated visits. Everything from the pasta to the gelato is homemade, and the produce sourced from Italy. The team’s commitment to Italian-sourced ingredients shines brightest in its cicchetti sections of the menu, where simplicity rules – think three types of burrata, hot focaccia, fried courgette flowers.
When it comes to mains, expect something a little more extravagant. We enjoyed two pizzas to shares: a classic Mammargherita di Bufala (£11) with mozzarella di buffalo, basil and San Marzano tomato, and a Burrata Pesto with rocket salad pesto, mozzarella fior de latte, almonds and candied datterino tomatoes (£15). Both were absolute joys. The tomatoes of the pizza rosso were deliciously sweet, whilst the cheese of the green pizza was seductively creamy. The rocket pesto was pleasingly mellow in flavour than it’s usual basil counterpart and I’m so glad we tried the burrata – this indulgent cheese seems to be the signature “thing” of this place (along with truffle, of course).
The staff, all wearing long red and white-striped shirts, like an Italian ten-pin bowling team, must be mentioned. Their welcoming vibe was electric, not least when our waiter rounded off our meal with complementary shots of limencello. Most are Italian, testament to the authenticity of this place. The result is a restaurant that transports you into another world. It’s genuinely buzzing, larger-than-life, over-the-top and built for the millennial age. They’ve also got another 280-seat restaurant (Circolo) hitting Fitzrovia at the end of June. Go and enjoy!
Gloria, 54-56 Great Eastern St, Hackney, London EC2A 3QR