Restaurant Of The Week: Il Gattopardo in Mayfair

Words by
Izzy Schaw Miller

27th March 2024

Izzy Schaw Miller lives a night of 'la dolce vita 'at Il Gattopardo, the Italian restaurant in Mayfair, brought by the luxury restaurant group behind Coya, Amazonico and Bar des Prés. She finds her evening a nostalgic nod to the epic period of Italian cinema in the 1960s.

Many of us are familiar with The Godfather trilogy, which through a screen lets its audience live in a world of the fictional Italian-American Corleone family, captivating us through themes of loyalty, love and a chillingly gruesome quest for power. Somewhat less far-famed, is The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), a cinematic masterpiece from 1963 that some say heavily influenced Coppella’s Godfather arriving just less than a decade later, with its visually opulent, palatial scenes and richness of detail. Despite a socialist constructing the original novel, The Leopard follows and sympathises with a prince in Sicily who is determined to cling onto his noble aristocracy in a time of social upheaval, with the Italian revolution led by Giuseppe Garibaldi that took place in the 1860s threatening to turn his riches to rags. 

Il Gattopardo restaurant opened in Mayfair last autumn

Main dining room Il Gattopardo
Spot the leopard overlooking the main dining area

Perhaps paying homage to the Sicilian prince looking out at his land he so adores, on entering Il Gattopardo restaurant in Mayfair, a new addition to Albemarle Street since October last year - you might notice a spotted sculptured feline standing proudly to one side - facing the restaurant as if welcoming diners to his own kingdom. This kingdom is one of lavish luxury, as if you are a part of a sumptuous ballroom from Il Gattopardo film itself, with glistening mirrors, moody lampshades, timeless Italian art, polished marble ornaments and white table cloths. There may be leopard print carpets and velvet seating - synonymous with the brash and showy - but the extravagance here manages to be bold, graceful and subtle at the same time. Calming wooden walls, chic tableware and a friendly, vivacious atmosphere for a weekday night sweep us in immediately.


Before dinner began, my guest and I were escorted through the main impressive interiors to a semi-outdoor (the roof is retractable) garden setting with bright, bushy trees and vines winding up the walls. We perched at the bar for an aperitivo, where we were treated by barman Nicola who set the tone of the evening walking us through the colourful cocktail menu and gallantly telling us the aim here is to live la dolce vita (the sweet life). As we sifted through the drinks menu finding a dazzling illustrated Sophia Loren gazing at us in a petite crimson dress and a picture-perfect Amalfi coastline, we got the gist.

Garden bar Il Gattopardo
Relive those unapologetically hedonistic years at the garden bar

We may be sixty years away from the height of these years in Italy, when a rise in flashy cars, celebrity red carpets and shimmering nightlife compensated for the bleak war period prior, but Il Gattopardo offers a night of the glamorous glory days associated with this time. Whether it's womanising Marcello and the beautiful Sylvia from La Dolce Vita film or The Leopard in his prime time, you might as well bask in the world of merriment and decadence as if you were the characters in these films. 

The restaurant is designed by Dion & Arles taking influence from celebrated Italian architect and designer Gio Punti, and boasts 85 covers in total. The well-polished main dining room seems like a marriage of a ritzy cruise ship and a playful Italian trattoria, while the discreet terrace at the far end whisks you away to an elite, exotic bar that feels miles away from the shopping district just outside. To go with the pleasure-loving theme, the garden terrace sometimes shuts its doors so guests can enjoy a relaxed cigar smoke. If that doesn’t transport you back to the good old days I’m not sure what will. For an even more secretive experience, there is a snug private dining space at the back which can seat nine on plush yellow sofas with quirky, colourful art and low wooden ceilings as a backdrop - perhaps the designers were continuing on that nautical theme.

Private dining Il Gattopardo
Cushy sofas and cabin feel in a private dining room


Given the generous surroundings, one might be quick to assume the restaurant is the frivolous style over substance type, but you would be mistaken. Akin to The Godfather and The Leopard, the culinary setting for Il Gattopardo restaurant is one inspired by the Sicilian way of life, as well as Amalfi and the Southern Isles. Cooking is led by Executive Chef Massimo Pasquarelli, who has several Michelin star restaurants under his belt, having worked with Alain Ducasse and most recently as executive chef for the Ritz Carlton Singapore. 

I recommend working up your appetite at the bar like we did and not missing out on the truffle or caviar pizzette and pungent arancini balls made with Italian sausage and a bold tomato sauce (I think that’s how you work up an appetite?). As we enter the brighter months sipping at the garden bar on L’Avventura, with tequila, chinotto, chili honey, bergamot and vanilla to make a delicious margarita-style drink, or various takes on a refreshing spritz including the Red Desert and Roman Holiday, is a wonderful way to start your meal.

Cocktail at Il Gattopardo
L'Avventura - Il Gattopardo's take on a Margarita

Once we were carted to our table and seated comfortably in the dining room for the main show, we perused the menu finding the sheer amount of options slightly dizzying, with a list of insalate, crudo, affettati, antipasti, pizzette, pasta, padella, pesce, contorni, formaggi and pasticceria all on offer. To combat our netflix-style indecision, we safely went with what our waitress recommended.

We began with zesty slices of tuna soused in a beetroot and onion relish, and milky and pungent smoked burrata drizzled with a herbed pistachio dressing. The focus is on sharing - which is just as well from the array of choice - so we felt like we were tasting plenty. Our secondi was a huge dover sole sautéed in a lime, chilli and paprika sauce into a dark battered layer that meant it didn’t photograph well, but the taste more than made up for that. We opted for parmesan potato bites to accompany the fish and enjoyed wines from across Italy brought by a knowledgeable sommelier for each course. 

Cooking at Il Gattopardo
Pasquarelli's cooking is just as seductive as the surroundings
Smoked burrata at Il Gattopardo
Cherrywood smoked burrata with pistachios & herbs

Even though my recommendation is to start with an aperitivo at the beginning of your time at Il Gattopardo, if it’s a rivalry between that or i dolci, the latter should be the prime contender. We went for the hazelnut and praline crunch bar, which is a slab of scandalously rich chocolate sitting on a leopard-plated background, and a lighter (more a testament to the richness of our other choice) tiramisu presented with a cocoa dusting of a feline silhouette on its surface for more slinky drama. The caramelised brioche buns with chantilly cream, although we didn’t try it, were also highly recommended.

Chocolate desert at Il Gattopardo
Gianduja - an evilly rich chocolate bar

To get a taste of the sweetness of life in your own home, Il Gattopardo is currently offering a leopard’s take on Easter eggs, a delectable creation of Pastry Chef Galileo Reposo. The yellow and black spotted coating is made with a blend of Italian white chocolate and Valrhona Equatorial 55% dark chocolate, with its core hiding a surprise of miniature eggs filled with velvety hazelnut, almond and pecan praline.

While our cholesterol might have suffered a little over the course of the evening, Il Gattopardo really is a spectacle of flavours and flair that meant it was a sacrifice worth making. The team all gave the impression of fervently caring for creating a gloriously unique establishment and one which didn’t fail to leave us feeling we had been treated to a magical evening. If you find yourself yearning for the blissful good life then perhaps Il Gattopardo is an offer you can’t refuse.

Il Gattopardo, 27 Albemarle St, London W1S 4HZ

020 3839 5000

You can book a table here.