15 Nov 2021
Introducing Isola, the much-anticipated new arrival from the award-winning and family-run San Carlo Group – the brains behind Alto and its Dior pop-up and now, the city’s hottest new dining destination. Isola (tr: island) brings la dolce vita to London with a heady dose of Sicilian Grand Café culture, Italian hospitality and a vibrant menu inspired by the islands of southern Italy. This is modern metropolitan dining, but with an island state of mind.
The swoon-worthy interiors combine the contemporary with old-school glamour. Designed by LA and London-based studio of the moment Fettle, Isola’s interiors take their cue from the Distefano family’s heritage and native Sicily, with a soft and considered palette of subtle sorbet shades juxtaposed by dark woods and traditional Italian rattan. Complete with an expansive and verdant leafy al fresco terrace, the relaxed yet stylish all-day brasserie and bar, offers indoor and outdoor dining from noon through to dinner.
Arrive to the standalone signature curved, Rosa Pink marble bar and sink into a custom soft green leather booths for an aperitivo before moving in to the vibrant and bustling 200-cover restaurant. Dappled in natural light – thanks to stained timber shopfront windows, the buzz and bustle of St Christopher’s Place is brought straight into the restaurant. The walls are strewn with artwork, curated by Narcassius Studio, and an illuminated bottle display, whilst the downstairs dining room, with its curved soft pink panels, eyecatching mural by LA based artist, Jessalyn Brooks, offers an elegant and intimate dining experience.
SUNNY DISHES, STRAIGHT FROM THE ISLANDS
Inspired by the Distefano family’s native Sicily and their summers spent on the islands, Isola’s menu is a breath of fresh air filled with sunny plates that bring bright and bold flavours to the fore. Free from gimmicks, this is excellent food drizzled with Italian hospitality.
Offering a modern take on the comforting classics we all know and love, guests can expect a taste of the coast with a fresh, vibrant menu of seasonal plates, by Executive Chef Andrea Parente The menu opens with a generous selection of stuzzichini – delicious snacks deserving of attention over a cocktail – with choice morsels including Arancini, Roasted Pepper marinated in olive oil and garlic and Sicilian Semolina Bread topped with Provola cheese and tomato basil sauce or filled with aubergine. Antipasti follows – expect Figliata al Tartufo – traditional creamy mozzarella encasing bite-size bocconcini, dressed in truffle oil – and Carpaccio di Spigola, the freshest carpaccio of sea bass with fennel chiffonade.
Next, the star of the show, and your Instagram feed, is the signature sharing Spaghetti Granseola – spaghetti for two served with a whole crab and house-spiced sauce that’s just like mama used to make. There’s also a selection of the family’s favourite dishes including Tartufo e Porcini Ravioli – handmade pecorino and truffle ravioli in a creamy sauce with black truffle, Signor Sassi Lobster Spaghetti and Gamberi Sicilia – grilled prawns with garlic, chilli and olive oil. Or, for a true taste of the islands, traditional dishes such as Luganica alla Tradizione Isolana – pork and fennel sausage with red grapes, rosemary and red wine sauce; and Carlamaro Imbottito – squid stuffed with fish, mussels, prawns, fresh tomato, lemon and sea salt are sure to delight.
What’s life without a little dolce? Finish with the dessert on everyone’s lips these days, an indulgent Tiramisu, served Classico or Limone, or Cannoli Sicliani – ricotta filled pastry with pistachio or cioccolato.
DIVINE DRINKS – SALUTI!
The extensive and exclusively Italian wine list, ranging from small producers to well-known wineries, journeys the length of the country’s vineyards from Piedmont and Veneto in the north, down to the Tuscany and the sun-drenched southern regions of Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily.
As well as all the classics, signature cocktails include the Isola Spritz, a blend of Amaro Santoni with raspberry purée, prosecco, soda, and an Old Fashioned Don Salvatore with Woodford Reserve, Averna Maraschino Liqueur and chocolate bitters. In true Italian style, there’s an extensive selection of grappa, bitters and Italian bottled brews.
Conveniently located in the heart of the West End, the downstairs area at Isola provides an elegant and atmospheric space for private events, suitable for 60 seated guests including the bar area. With pastel yellow walls, green marble floors and booth seating throughout, the space provides the perfect setting for every occasion from birthday celebrations to formal business dinners, and extravagant Christmas drinks parties.
Find yourself transported to sunnier climes and discover Italian food with soul from the heart of the Distefano family – Isola by San Carlo.
Isola by San Carlo
3-5 Barrett Street, St Christopher’s Place, London, W1U 1AY