Osteria review: ​An Italian diner embedded deep inside the concrete labyrinth of the Barbican

Steve Hogarty
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A slick, bistro-style Italian restaurant embedded somewhere deep inside the concrete labyrinth of the Barbican Centre, Osteria specialises in classic pasta dishes, cocktails and wine. A vintage meat slicer makes an odd centrepiece here, looking slightly out of place on the carpeted flooring. What if a bit of ham shaving fell on the shag? Best not to think about it too much.

WHERE? The Barbican Centre, EC2Y. On the second floor of the sprawling brutalist complex, ideally located for grabbing a couple of glasses of wine before or after a show. Osteria fits in with its surroundings nicely, with retro-futuristic egg-carton ceilings and distinctively Barbican-esque brass bannisters around the bar and light fittings.

WHO? Osteria is a Searcys restaurant headed up by chef Patrick Leano in collaboration with Anthony Demetre, both of whom are formerly of Soho’s Michelin-starred Arbutus.

ORDER THIS... Start things off with some cheese. The burrata is top-tier fromage, like a cream-filled mozzarella waterballoon. The pasta course options include a crab and mascarpone ravioli, and a pumpkin and sage tortelloni. The former is a rather oily affair, slick and slippery, but the tortelloni is nicely seasoned, and those tight little pumpkin parcels arrive in generous portions. Pumpkin makes a second appearance as an accompaniment to the seabass, proving itself a most versatile seasonal gourd indeed.

BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? Osteria’s location makes it ideal for pre-theatre entertaining, while during the daytime things can be a little quieter – ideal for more clandestine meetings.

NEED TO BOOK? You should have no problems strolling in on a weekday at lunchtime, but the Barbican Centre gets busy in the evenings and at weekends. You can book a table online at osterialondon.co.uk

THE VERDICT... The decor at Osteria, with its incongruously positioned meat slicer and its busily patterned carpets, is reminiscent of an airport lounge, but the food is well put together. This is a fine pre-show watering hole, but certainly not a destination restaurant.

ONE MORE THING... The pre-theatre set menu at Osteria offers two courses for £18, or three for £22.

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