In an effort to give a newly opened restaurant a fair and accurate assessment, I decided to give Ristorante Gloria one more try. After all, at lunch it wasn’t likely to be as dark, given the abundance of windows, and I was very curious to try that Carbonara which seemed promising! So, off I went with a colleague on my lunch break as a special treat…

Fortunately the restaurant was nowhere near as dark this time, and I could better appreciate the floral decorations and the bright and airy space which, quite possibly, made it feel all the more like an escape to an Italian holiday island. Shame about the space, though: the seats are packed so tightly that I – nor other diners – could squeeze between the tables to get in or out of our seats without knocking over the glassware on the tables.

Carbonara pasta
A ‘so-called’ Carbonara at Ristorante Gloria

However, I finally ordered by eagerly-awaited Carbonara, and I was absolutely devastated. Ask any self-respecting Italian – especially a Roman (of which I am proudly considered an honorary one after my years of having lived there) – and they will all tell you that making Carbonara with cream is absolute sacrilege! What makes it worse is the lengths to which this restaurant goes to achieve authenticity otherwise: their Italian staff, their Italian music, using the guanciale instead of pancetta, use of pecorino instead of parmigiano… they get everything else right and then fail so miserably on such an important point! Perhaps it’s because they do go to such lengths that it makes this error so unforgivable on their part.

Gelato-stuffed profiterole covered in chocolate

Unable to leave the meal at this profoundly sad development, we ordered a dessert to share, which was the giant profiterole stuffed with gelato and covered in chocolate sauce right before your eyes at the table, to add some dramatic effect. Of course it was delicious: it’s a little hard to get carbs and chocolate wrong – but I must admit that from a gelato perspective it was pretty authentic. Strong flavours, creamy texture… definitely gelato and not ice cream, I’m pleased to confirm.

Espresso to finish the meal

As it was a work lunch, the dessert was quickly followed by the bill and an espresso which, I learned from the first experience, was a sure bet.

Having been here twice now, I’m sorry to say it but Ristorante Gloria is all about the style, not the substance. And for some occasions, that’s ok: it’s a fantastic option for getting a coffee or a drink in style, even with a bit of cheese or a prosciutto or salami starter to accompany it. And I can entirely believe that the average Londoner would rate the food quite highly. However, any self-respecting Italian would likely never return for a proper meal after the abomination of the Carbonara. Do with that what you will.

Calories for this lunch – the Carbonara and half of the shared dessert – have been estimated to total 880.

Ratings below refer to the lunch experience only; for the dinner experience please read the preceding review; thank you:

Food taste: 3 / 5 (Points given mainly for the respectable coffee and gelato; points significantly deducted for the carbonara and the only reason I’m not deducting further is because I am attempting to be impartial rather than Italian about this!)

Food/table presentation: 4 / 5 (I still adore the majolica dishes, but shame that the tables are covered in paper during the lunch service. I understand why, but it’s jarring with the elegance of the rest of the establishment)

Service: 3.5 / 5  (Better than dinner, but a bit surprised that my Italian waitress – who knew I was practically Roman, and acknowledged she knew the Carbonara was inauthentically prepared – wouldn’t have advised me differently)

Atmosphere/decor: 4.5 / 5 (It’s gorgeous; there are no two ways about it. Possibly even more so by day.)

Value for money: 3 / 5 (In light of the lunch portions, I believe the menu is a touch overpriced. I know Shoreditch is trendy and I made allowances for this for dinner, but the prices a bit high for lunch )

Overall rating: 3.6 / 5

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