© Big Mama Group

London has welcomed Circolo Popolare, the second restaurant by Paris-based Big Mama Group opened in rapid succession to Gloria which has already garnered a cult-like status…and wait line. Circolo Popolare follows a similar formula albeit scaled up to accommodate the swell of fans. Like the rest of the family, the decor is no-expense-spared immersing diners in a fantasy Italian trattoria. The walls are lined floor-to-ceiling with what feels like ten liquor stores worth of glittering aperitivo bottles, whilst faux-marble booths and a foliaged ceiling are classic Italo courtyard. Furniture and all the trimmings have been painstakingly sourced and are on the right side of kitsch to avoid the feeling you’re in a ‘themed’ restaurant. From vintage posters to Seventies-esque faux-fruit arrangements and thrift store cocktail glasses opportunities for Insta are generously afforded. Luckily the sustenance lives up to the style with original takes on Italian favourites and theatrical portions. A healthy dose of good humour runs throughout starting with the libations like the ‘Anti Brexspritz’ in homage to the host nation, the ‘Look Me In the Eyes’ triple-rum cleanser served in a busty mug and the ‘Punch-drunk Love’ served in a strawberry shaped novelty bowl. Starters include the pert and oozing burrata, indulgent zucchini flower beignets and Tuscan scotch eggs. Pasta is the star with the magnificent ‘Grab Me By the Paccheri’ swimming with seafood and seashells or the truffle served straight up in the pan. The handkerchief-light Napoli pizza is available in one-metre long portions which you can split in two flavours (beef carpaccio with pineapple and blue cheese with lavender perhaps?). The sundae is obscene and can’t possibly be finished, as is the legendary lemon meringue pie at an overboard six inches high. Brunch is equally cheeky with the ‘Big Boy’ loaded French toast and the ‘Dirty’ Veggie Plate’. Circolo Popolare is on to a hit with love and attention clear and abundant. Reputation is well deserved – both Circolo Popolare and cousin Gloria are fun and leave you full-bellied.

Circo Popolare
40-41 Rathbone Place (Fitzrovia)
London W1T 1HX
Mon-Fri 8-11.15 / 12-10.30
Sat 9-11.15 / 11.30-4 / 6-10.30
Sun 9-11.15 / 11.30-4 / 6-10

© Big Mama Group