The new Carlotta restaurant in Marylebone is the closest most Londoners will ever come to stepping into a Scorsese movie. A homage to 1980s Italian American culture, Carlotta has all the chintz and meatballs of Brooklyn’s best red sauce joints transported to one of London’s most upper-crust neighbourhoods.
Carlotta: a new Big Mama Group offering
It is the fifth London restaurant from the Big Mama Group, who made their first big splash in the city with Gloria in Shoreditch. There, guests line out the door for a chance to taste the famous carbonara made at the table in a round of pecorino cheese, share a three-tier tower of focaccia, cheese and meats, and eat a bowl of stracciatella like its ice cream.
While the food at Carlotta is just as decadent, its Italian-American inspiration gives it a slightly different bent. Must try dishes include the Seafood alla Vodka, a classic 80s pasta dish with crab, clams and tarragon oil mixed into a creamy pink sauce; and, of course, the Spaghetti and Meatballs, which Carlotta makes using pork, salami and 'nduja to give them a more complex kick than the ones your grandmother used to make, and all finished off with a mountain of parmesan just for good measure. If you are looking for something other than pasta, then try the Chicken Parmigiana. Another classic of Italian American cooking, this breaded chicken escalope is stuffed with mouth-watering mozzarella fior di latte and prosciutto crudo and served in a bath of marinara sauce.
Stare into your abundant plate of carbohydrates, cheese and meat at Carlotta and you will feel like you’re indulging in some seriously decadent behaviour, but look up from your plate and you’ll realise that the food is only the half of it.
The decor of the two-floor space is Bamonte's-meets-Studio 54, with the cosiness of retro red leather banquettes, dark wooden tables, and walls covered in the team’s own family wedding pictures, combined with the high-octane glamour of a mirror-striped curved ceiling, reflective tables and crystal chandeliers. As always Big Mamma worked with their own in-house design team, Studio Kiki, to ensure everything – from the fabrics to the crockery – were designed in keeping with the 1980s theme.
The result is a glitzy and indulgent destination that is, at its heart, just plain fun. So slick back your hair, get on some shiny shoes and go get yourself some meatballs.