I truly believe La Famiglia is the hidden gem of Chelsea restaurants.
Having heard mutterings of its greatness from my family, expectations were high. It’s in a strange location – that no-man’s land area between Beautfort House and Embargoes (close to World’s End, so get a cab for goodness sake).
Alvaro Maccioni and his family set up and still run La Famiglia. It has been an institution since it opened in 1975, which alone demonstrates how much experience these feisty Italians have.
As soon as you walk in its go go go! Suited waiters running about, laughing cheery customers, the smell of rich cooking. Inside it’s all white, low ceilings with black and white authentic photos across the walls and close set tables of people who have been coming here for 30 years or more. Thanks for the invite.
We sat out the back, it’s a patio area which feels like a marquee – heat lamps and striped plastic walls. Sounds amateur, but it’s actually adorable. I suppose it was developed as a restaurant version of an overflow car park. Seems well used!
Forget dodgy pizzas and soggy pasta. Expect proper, rustic Tuscan. You’ll be efficiently waited on by a small cohort of experienced European waiters. The service is very Italian, with a soft tone – plenty of smiles and a couple of winks whilst they’re running between tables with their trolleys of deliciousness.
The menu reads well, showing La Famiglia’s Alvaro Maccioni is true family Italian – there is something for everyone, they ever offer gluten free pasta. There’s also plenty of vegetarian food and because the dishes are so rich, typical of Tuscan cuisine, these dishes are immensely satisfying.
The clientele was so varied from big groups of young professionals in down to elderly couples enjoying the buzz. This was a Friday night.
I found the strangest sounding dish and ordered it – Nettle and ricotta pasta with a mascarpone sauce which was an absolute delight! The handmade pasta is so fresh and eggy and the cheese sauce was indulgent.I always tell myself not to visit a place twice, but this one has broken me – I can’t wait to go back. The sense of organised chaos and refusal to turn modern suits me to perfection.
They even let us take a bottle of wine home- hero’s!