La Famiglia – Winner of Best Lunch!
Readers from West and Southwest London voted for La Famiglia in the The Hill & The Village Magazine Restaurant Awards.
This is owned and run by one of the old-timers of the London restaurant scene. A pleasant place composed of a number of rooms with a garden at the back. Alvaro recommended the Zucchini flowers deep fried. I was hypnotised by the chopped chicken livers, capers, garlic on toast. Alvaro’s rabbit would never pass as chicken. It was too solid. But the sauce was good. At La Famiglia there was wild strawberry cheesecake, which I chose without expecting much. Restaurant cheesecakes are usually dire. This was amazingly good. Sweet trolleys are invariably deceptive. Everything looks good but usually isn’t London’s best sweet trolley is the Dorchester. Geraldine and I raved about our desserts. Michael Linnit had a fruit salad. He took a bite and said. “I’ve never tasted an apple like that”.
The Sunday Times
The food is impeccable as I remember. Unbelievably good tapenade, fagioli al fiasco (a Florentine speciality which cooks beans in a flask) and legumi misti alla grilia (grilled vegetables brushed with delicious Laudemio oil) started us off perfectly. Jane’s main dish of calamari e seppe (squid and cuttlefish ink sauce) just drew a “wow” from her and was blackest of black. My spagetti vongole wasjust as I wanted it to be –slightly salty and very good.
Tuscan Alvaro Maccioni is rightly famous for his hospitality and profound knowledge of Italian food, and the menu never strays far from his philosophy-good ingredients make great food.
Well served on the carnivore front, non-meat eaters are not neglected. Fish is always plentiful and the range of vegetarian and seafood risotto is supplemented by the summer special of strawberry risotto, which, when taken with a glass of chilled Prosecco, is the perfect accompaniment to any love match.
La Famiglia is uniquely capable of transporting you to the Tuscan slopes and the ambiance was delightful. One glace at the menu confirms that this is traditionally Tuscan fare. I chose the carabaccia (garlic toast with vegetable, poached egg and sheep cheese) as a starter. This proved a winning choice as the egg was poached to perfection… We will return…
Food & Wine Ireland
La Famiglia has long been a favourite of mine since the heady 80’s. the garden is still very much at the heart of the restaurant. Alvaro still maintains the traditions of Mamma’s cooking (“if a chef cooks like his mother, he is a great chef. If he cooks like his grandmother he is even greater”). He has applied this to his fresh, seasonal menu ever since.
I can endorse this review wholeheartedly. I had the great pleasure of eating at La famiglia last autumn. Initially, the authenticity creates shockwaves, particularly if you have come to Italian food via a more conventional route, namely pasta and pizza. Then the senses take over, particularly if like me, you are a lover of richly-sauced wild and real food-rabbit, venison, wild boar, teamed with an extravagantly perfumed substantial red from Tuscany or Piedmonte. VERITABLE GASTRO-HEAVEN.
Food & Wine Ireland Editor’s Note
A great Tuscan restaurant a taxi ride away from the hustle and bustle of Portobello. Its specialities include strawberry risotto (I kid you not) and deep fried marrow flowers – delicious. Also a great place to spot celebs.
At the Coselli School of Tuscan Cuisine, near Lucca, Alvaro Maccioni operates on the theory that “cooking brings out the best in people”, and proves it with easy amiability.
Brian St. Pierre
Decanter Special Supplement – ITALY
Expecting a quiet Monday evening’s casual dinner at a local restaurant off the King’s road, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The atmosphere was electric, laugh and conversation pervaded this bustling Tuscan eatery, owned and managed by Alvaro Maccioni. La Famiglia has been a leading destination for foodies who love genuine, quality regional Tuscan cuisine since 1975.
London insiders know that summer in the city is all about being outdoors: eating alfresco at favorite old restaurants, such as La Famiglia, in Chelsea.
Town & Country Magazine USA Travel
Within this corner of London Maccioni is something of a legend. What happened here is very rare in a restaurant, he told me. Normally children don’t like to go where their parents go, but we are getting the grandchildren as well.
Alvaro Maccioni has been a Kings Road legend since the sixties. Classic food from Tuscany & Umbria and friendly staff who are very understanding with children.
Harpers & Queen
H&Q Restaurant Guide
This is, without question, the best restaurant in London. Formal without being over formal. Friendly without being intrusive. The food is better than anything I’ve eaten in Italy. People will moan about the ‘retro’ nature of the food, or complain the table are too close together, but don’t listen to them as they’re being pedantic.
If you have a life and something to say you won’t notice the people around you and who wants to eat the same old thing served up rote by so many of the more modern and populist London establishments.
Eat here, even if it’s your last meal… you’ll die happy.
Aubrey Vincent Chapman
customer web review on london.com
Every ingredient is purchased with care and prepared to perfection.
ITALIA : UK Magazine
Now something of a Chelsea institution, it skilfully attracts new generations of diners while satisfying regulars. Most of the meat on the comfortably traditional – which includes roast wild boar, veal with rosemary & garlic and salt marsh lamb is organic.
House & Gardens
“Who Serves Organic?”
The celebrity crowd still can’t get enough of Alvaro Maccioni’s simple Tuscan fare.
OFM Classic Cuisine
Observer Food Magazine
And to be truthful, the food – Tuscan pretty much through & through – was served in a more authentically Italian manner then anywhere else I have eaten in London, including Locanda Locatelli. The steak was a tremendous piece of meat, quite the best I have eaten in London for years.
In 1969 Alvaro Maccioni joined the fray with his ‘Alvaro Pizza e Pasta’, of which there would eventually be 18. They were the first to use real wood-burning ovens, causing Egon Ronay to bark in his Evening News column that ‘The pizza craze has hit London!’
OFM London Classic Restaurants
Observer Food Magazine
La Famiglia is one of the few pre river café trattorias worth its salt. One of Alvaro’s passions is risotto. It might sound odd to make a risotto but when you think about it, savory rice pudding with strawberries isn’t a fusion too far. Gently softened onion and carrot echo the sweetness of strawberry and highlight their acidity.
Alvaro calls it the Italian adaptation of the strawberries-and-cream Wimbledon idea; serve it with a chilled bottle of chilled Prosecco.
ITALIANS DO IT BETTER
At La Famiglia today there is no mistaking its Italian. The walls are tiled to the height of about a metre, perhaps a little more. And hanging on the pale washed walls are lots of black & white photographs of the nearest & dearest. “I’m an Italian” Says Alvaro “The last thing I look at is the decoration, for me the restaurant has to be clean, it has to represent my home, my dining room. My kitchen might be stainless steel, but not my dining room. To me the best decoration is the dish that is on your plate”. There is no question that the food at La Famiglia is top quality.
A heated, canopied back terrace is just one factor in the popularity of Alvaro’s restaurant which is truly family run, even unto the second generation. Long ago when Rosie & Ruthie were as extra virgin as the River Café olive oil, Alvaro was offering rustic, Tuscan dishes such as crostini, panzanella salad, fagoli al fiasco (cooked in a flask) and bistecca alla Fiorentina. There is emphasis now on organic ingredients. Terrace tables are allocated to those arriving earliest, which creates a tension in the average Chelsea diner who likes to roll up fashionably late. I dare say there are ways round this problem. Risottos and pastas, although not a Tuscan habit, are well made and generously served. A main course I like is pollo al mattone, which is cooked in a brick. Thoughts of Alvaro and chicken bricks take me back to when the Kings Road was a highway to heaven.
Dining, Evening Standard Metro, TOP 5 RESTAURANTS FOR EATING OUTSIDE
Walking into La Famiglia is like walking onto a movie set. There are white coated Italian waiters larking around, the fast talking, sleek-suited maitre d’, the tables of italiophile regulars and the gargantuan platters of steaming pasta with aubergines, wild boar or broccoli cooked by chef Quinto Cecchetti. The gleaming tiled walls are the backdrop to hundreds of black & white family photographs, testament to decades of fine casalinga cooking (most dishes hail from Alvaro Maccioni’s mother’s native Tuscany). Maccioni learned his trade at Soho’s legendary Trattoria Terrazza in the Sixties before opening a string of restaurants, then going back to Italy in 1972. He returned to London in 1976, opened La Famiglia and the rest is history.
Food & Travel
Alvaro is “…the godfather of many London trattoria…”
The round table under the clock is popular among regulars, but in summer the most desirable spot has to be the covered garden – perfect for observing old Chelsea glamour, fasionatistas and well heeled globe trotters such as Tony Bennett, Elle Macpherson, Jemima Kahn, Kylie Minogue, Eric Clapton, Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman.
Where the celebrities like to be seated
The first night my boyfriend (now my husband) took me out was to Alvaro on the Kings Road. That was in 1976. Now its in Langton Street, run by the same people and called La Famiglia.
MY LONDON, ES Magazine My most memorable meal in London
The blue and white interior has a timeless sort of feel – it could be the 50’s the 60’s or the 80’s. It’s cool, it’s understated, it’s unmistakably uncluttered and Chelsea.
As a local restaurant, La Famiglia’s been a familiar sight for over thirty years. The food and menu are familiar – just how they like it.
“Every Sunday” says Alvaro, “we’re full with families at La Famiglia, it’s like being in Italy, and it’s been like that for 30 years.”
Man at top: Alvaro Maccioni Who is he?
Merely one of the inventors of the London trattoria as we know it. Wine List: concise, with all the kind of things you would expect to see,
like Ornellaia and Sassicaia, as well as nice touch of six Italian sparkling wines. Customers: Almost anyone of any fame in the Western world has eaten here. Dress: Off duty Chelsea.
ES Magazine INSIDE GUIDE