La Dolce Vita at VyTA Covent Garden.
VyTA describes itself as ‘an elegant Italian lifestyle experience’; in practice, it’s an all-day restaurant handily located in the heart of Covent Garden market ‘open from dusk till dawn serving breakfast and brunch through to dinner and beyond’.
New pre-theatre or late-night options in Covent Garden are always welcome especially after a trip to the theatre, opera or ballet so we were very pleased to have been asked to review. The VyTA brand is well-established in Italy with the prize-winning Daniela Colli designed sites initially situated in railway stations. Their first restaurant opening in 2004 in Roma Termini railway station, followed by Milano Centrale in 2010 and Porta Nuova and Napoli Centrale (2011). You will also find them in Venice Santa Lucia, Bologna Centrale and Villa Borghese at the Casa del Cinema in Rome, Firenze Santa Maria Novella and Piazza Farnese in Rome.
The first thing that is noticeable about VyTA in Covent Garden is that it has plenty of outdoor seating (with heaters!) both on the ground floor or on the balconies overlooking the market. Both areas have wonderful views and are perfect for a get together with friends, a shopping pit-stop or just for watching the world go by at aperitivo time.
However, we went upstairs to the bijou bar for a crisp glass of Prosecco…
The restaurant is an intimate, sexy space with beautifully patterned marble floors, burnt orange banquettes and a DJ playing some very chilled house music. It feels very 1960s Italian and super stylish!
We nibbled on some home-baked breadsticks and colourful carrot and pomegranate crisps.
First up was a pumpkin soup with fig and hazelnut. It was warm and comforting – a perfect winter’s dish for the chill of a December evening with the sweetness of fresh fig and the crunch of hazelnut lifting it and adding textural contrast. The only false note was some unnecessary roast pumpkin skin. The soup was matched with a glass of Kettmeier Pinot Bianco, 2018 from Alto Adige. It balanced a slight oiliness with good acidity and had notes of lime and apple coming through.
My favourite dish was a plate of Taglolini pasta slathered with black squid ink, given a salty kick by a few salmon eggs and a hint of chilli. It was properly ‘al dente’ and showed that the kitchen was taking things seriously…always a good sign! We moved on to a Santa Margherita Stilrose Trentino, 2018 Rosé bursting with strawberry and cherry flavours.
It went surprisingly well with our robust main dish of fresh octopus, squid and sea bass cooked on the griddle and served in an authentic fish stock.
Our signature dessert was called La Sphera – a chocolate globe with a tiramisu interior and slathered with a coffee and chocolate sauce – it was delicious and bittersweet and a great end to the meal.
Service was efficient and friendly and my only criticism was that the restaurant was on the chilly side with customers in coats. Having the balcony doors open may work in Italy but needs a bit more thought for London in December. But for a slice of La Dolce Vita in London, VyTa is a great bet!
21 The Market,
London WC2E 8RD
Looking for more options in and around Covent Garden? For a French rather than Italian flavour, you might want to consider the Lady of the Grapes in Maiden Lane – check our review