restaurants
Banca
30 North Audley Street
W1Y 1WD
+44 207 467 2525

This lovely Italian restaurant from Arjun and Peter Waney (co-founders of Zuma and Roka) and entrepreneur Giuliano Lotto (Aurelia and Il Baretto) is set up in the right way for being just south of Oxford Street; there's dining tables, but also a bar you can eat salumi or olives or terrines at, and an outdoor seating area, all of which proffer a relaxed attitude that remind us a bit of Cipriani in NY or Santa Lucia in Milan. What Executive Chef Marzio Zacchi and Head Chef Gabriele Milani seem to do best is seafood, with two musts on the appetiser menu; a lobster salad and a scallop ceviche, the latter infused with Amalfi lemon. Pastas are, as the Italians do, small and intended to be an in- between course. Fresh and al dente, whether lasagnette ribbons or their soft gnocchi with Taleggio and truffles, you have to love cheese for this course. Surprisingly the winning dish in the meats is the roast chicken. Light and tender, and not overly sauced, we recommend it over the cotoletta, which is nice, but doesn't hold a candle to its defeathered friend. From service to style, everything here smacks of authenticity. Our only criticism is we wish they'd drop the "sharing concept" speech as the menu structure, portion sizes, and types of food are purely traditional. No family- sized noodle plates here.

$$$

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