I am rarely prepared to wait in line for a restaurant but at Pink Mamma in Paris, after
hearing almost EVERY SINGLE of my foodie friend’s raving about its lavish interiors and outstanding Italian food, I simple knew I had to try I, no matter how long it would take to get a table. It was after all also part of the famous Big Mamma restaurant group, headed up by two French restauranteurs who had spent 3 years extensively touring Italy to transport the best of Italian dining, drinking and design back to France where they now run 6 restaurants, all of which have become incredible successes and command long queues no matter the day. Our meal was simply outstanding, one of those you do not forget in a hurry, and my dining companion Maddie and I were left in awe of the sense of dolce vita so successfully conveyed both through the dining space and dishes, particularly their iconic truffle pasta which was one of the best things I have ever eaten.
I was therefore more than a little bit excited when I found out that the duo was actually in the process of opening another outpost of the Big Mamma family, not only in London but a 10-minute walk away from my house, indeed bringing a lot of the star dishes so iconic at Pink Mamma (plus some rather fabulous additions) to British shores. I was not the only one excited, there has been buzz about Gloria ever since word got out, after all the group commands over 150k Instagram followers world-wide on their profile, each one salivating over their incredible looking dishes and amazing restaurant aesthetics that they post daily.
My hopes were, of course, admittedly high after my dinner at Pink Mamma but I am very happy to report that Gloria only managed to exceed my expectations! Taking over a rather grim spot on Great Eastern street, a short walk away from Old Street station, they have once again done an amazing job of transforming a space into something quite extraordinary and magical. Even the outside brightens up the entire road, painted a vibrant shade of yellow and covered in plants and foliage.
Inside there are two distinctively different dining spaces. Both are inspired by 1950s-70s Capri, the heyday decades of this tiny Italian island, when it was the playground of the local high society. The upstairs is a light flooded space, full of ornate lampshades, pinstripe upholstery and crisp white table cloths, with even more luscious plants dotted around the room. For me the upstairs has a distinctively daytime feel and I can’t wait to come back to sample their breakfast offering during the day but if you are after the real WOW factor dining experience I recommend you try and get a table for the downstairs dining space.
Walking down the steps to the basement you are surrounded by luxurious red velvet curtain lining the walls and are a faced with a neon sign that reads “SEDUCE & DESTROY". As you enter the room it almost feels like you have walked straight into a Quentin Tarantino set with a hint of ‘Mad Men'. There is moody lighting, mirrored ceilings, pink velour seating, jazz softly playing in the background and an air of gluttony in the room, you really could not feel further away from East London if you tried. Yes, some might think it’s a little OTT but for me this is what dining should be like, magical and able to transport you away from the everyday.
Waiters are kitted out in candy stripe shirts, all proudly Italian and offering you all the advice on ordering one could want, it’s a level of service and sheer enthusiasm you rarely find while eating out in London. The menu is full of Italian classics, made into something quite special here. Because, as was the case with Pink Mamma, here style is not over substance. Yes, it is a stunning place but the food they serve is here to match that standard.
There is of course the famous truffle pasta I had in Paris (the best £18 you will ever spend), fantastic pizza –we shared the pesto one, topped with the creamiest of burrata, as well as a cabonara for those eating meat, served straight out of a pecorina cheese wheel for your pleasure and a 10 layer lasagne with fondant mozzarella and fior de latte. Prices are more than fair considering the quality of ingredients and serving sizes and even the wine is a very reasonable £23 for a bottle of house white, I have paid more at some London pubs. Had our stomachs been bigger I could have easily also tried the supposedly incredible smoked stracciatella burrata and there are also impressive looking beef carpacchio platters for all you carnivores to salivate over.
However, we needed to leave space for dessert because they are for sure no sheer afterthought at Gloria! In fact, we were pretty close to ordering 3 between us 2, too torn between all the options on offer. I mean who can say no to profiterole napoletana, a hugh puff pastry with vanilla gelato, served with lashings and lashings of dark chocolate sauce or an aptly named 'Eton musk', fluffy meringue, whipped cream and fruits. In the end however we could not NOT order their “incomparable lemon pie”, a humongous slice of meringuey goodness that was like eating a lemon cloud as well as their incredible take on the classic tiramisu, served straight out of a big serving bowl with a huge spoon by a waiter that won’t be stingy. This was utter dessert heaven, once again not only being insta ready in terms of their look but out of this world delicious.
Yes, it was not the cheapest meal I could have had on a Sunday night but it was worth every penny, it’s the kind of dinner you’ll think about for days after and rave to friends about and one that I would always queue for (though if like us you go around 6pm on a Sunday you may just be lucky and get a table straight away). Gloria is a magical addition to the dining scene in London that was much needed when every hipster joint started to look and feel the same. Take your friends, your lover, your mum or just yourself and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Gloria, Italian food has never tasted
better outside of Italy.