When I visited: November 2016
Location: London, near Covent Garden
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Not rated in the Guide
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress (could go more casual)
Ambience: Smart / casual, bustling, unhurried
Course of the meal: Orecchiette pasta with tomato sauce and fresh cheese
If I could change one thing: Less gapping in service
I went to Li Veli with my partner Owl spontaneously when an impromptu and unwelcome central London power cut cancelled the screening of a film we were supposed to go to. I’d heard good things about the restaurant and always enjoy well-formed traditional Italian food.
The restaurant is bigger than it looks, with lots of seating downstairs, so we were seated quickly despite having no reservation. I was a little disappointed that the menu looked limited, with not many mains to choose from – some of them included what seemed to be traditional English courses based on chicken and lamb, and I would have liked to see more traditional Italian options.
However, the choice of starters was good and the ones we selected – salmon carpaccio, and cod carpaccio with apple – were both light, fresh and delicious. There were also a lot of good wines available by the glass. Our mains didn’t disappoint either when they arrived – the orecchiette pasta with tomato sauce and fresh cheese was simple but amazing, a bit like the food at Hotel du Lac in Lake Como. We shared a chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream with dessert which was rich and gorgeous.
I would have given this restaurant 4 hoots due to the quality of all the food and drink we tried, but unfortunately there were consistent problems with slow service throughout. We waited a loooong time between courses and while this isn’t a problem when you’re not in a hurry, it can disrupt your enjoyment of the meal.