Chef Angela Hartnett Plans Trattoria in London’s Covent GardenRichard Vines
Angela Hartnett, a former protege of Gordon Ramsay who has gone on to become the U.K.’s best-known female chef, plans to open her third London restaurant in June.
The Covent Garden establishment will be the second branch of Cafe Murano, a casual and inexpensive trattoria that has been pulling in crowds of diners since opening late in 2013. Hartnett said further locations may be added in future.
“We might look at doing another one, but we’ll take it one at a time, get it right and expand gradually,” she said in an interview. “I don’t want to open a restaurant every six months. That could kill you. But there’s nothing wrong with a chain: Pizza Express and Soho House are chains and hugely successful.”
Hartnett learned to cook with her Italian grandmother and went on to work in several locations with Ramsay. She ran a restaurant for him at the Connaught hotel before opening the fine-dining Murano restaurant in 2008. She subsequently bought it from Ramsay and the Cafe Murano trattoria followed.
Hartnett said she was “gobsmacked” by the popularity of the first Cafe Murano, in Mayfair, and she aims to build on that success with the new venue, on Tavistock Street. The head chef will be Richard Lloyd, the sous chef at Hartnett Holder & Co, a hotel restaurant she runs in the New Forest, southwest of London.
“He was there for five years so we don’t need to break him in,” she said. “The new site is over two floors, and the kitchen is in the basement, which is a challenge in itself and different but we’ve got an idea that I think will make it work well.
‘‘We want to put in an antipasti station. Just simple: a plate of octopus and potato salad or one of anchovies, so the waiters can serve it instead of going up two flights of stairs, which will ease the service and just make it quicker.
‘‘It’s 140 covers. The food will be like (the first) Cafe Murano, but the northern Italian we do there is a lot more inland -- Tuscan, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardia -- whereas we’ll look a bit more to the coastal areas, so Venezia, Liguria etc.’’
Apart from having its own menu and wine list, the venue will include a shop next door, selling fresh pasta and sauces, as well as Italian wines. The opening is scheduled for mid-June.
Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter@richardvines.