Whilst the Marriott Regents Park might not be the most spectacular hotel you will ever see in London, it is rare for guests to be able to stroll down to the lobby area and find an established, respected Italian restaurant on offer rather than a cookie-cutter hotel cafe.
Similar to other Carluccio’s, the design is very clean-looking with abundant use of pristine white walls, tables and an appetising display of desserts as you enter the restaurant. They also have a small section where you can purchase classic Italian ingredients, dry goods or even just simple Italian sandwiches and drinks if you fancy a picnic in the nearby park.
Bread isn’t always mentioned when it comes to reviewing restaurants, but the foccacia here is outstanding and from the first bite, you have an immediate sense that this is made daily in-house, such is the quality and softness of their dough, which is from Liguria in Italy. Although I would be wary of ordering too much, because the portions are relatively large and both the starters we ordered also offered bread.
You could not get a more aromatically delightful porcini broth than combining fine mushrooms and Italian bacon. Not only was the taste appealing but the consistency of the soup was just on the right side of creaminess. The other starter we tried was their signature prawns marinara. It was exceptionally well-seasoned with olive oil, white wine, cherry tomatoes and fennel seeds. The only improvement would be to have more of their addictive sauce for dipping the foccacia bread with.
For main course, their new dish, lamb alla griglia was slightly overcooked and lacked tenderness. The abundance of vegetables made for an extremely healthy dish, but I still had reservations on whether items like cannellini beans pair well with lamb cutlets. The smart move for the shrewd diner is to order their pasta dishes here. The pappardelle con pollo was full of rich flavours as it had a mixture of shiitake, oyster and button mushrooms mixed in with the delicate chicken meat. This was mixed in with crème fraîche, garlic, white wine and toasted pine nuts. It does fit in with their mantra: Minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour.
For the sweet ending, they have many classic Italian desserts here. The vanilla Panna cotta had added vibrancy with the addition of rum-flavoured cream and candied orange. Whilst the health-conscious amongst us can opt for their fruit salad bowl.
Thankfully, this Carluccio’s isn’t just for hotel guests and welcomes visitors from all over London and around the world.