62 Seymour St,
020 3826 7940
Mon-Fri 8am-11pm, Sat 9.30am-11pm, Sun 9.30am-9pm
All-day, smart Italian restaurant with a menu of small plates, larger dishes and a roast porchetta (pork) lunch on Sundays.
You’ll find modern Italian restaurant Bernardi’s on a corner just off the Edgware Road, where the roads become leafy and the cars expensive. It’s smart, with outdoor seating framed by neatly trimmed topiary and inside, a wide-open dining room where people can see and be seen.
If this description makes it sound stuffy, that’s unfair, because Bernardi’s is the opposite, from the friendly smiles at the door through the whole service which impressively, lasts from morning until evening close, seven days a week.
Arriving sweaty and flustered on one of the hottest days of the year proves no match for the hospitality, and instantly cold water is set down at a breezy window table. It’s proving hard to imagine eating pasta in the intense heat – a shame since it’s famously so good – but there are plenty of lighter options to choose from.
A fish crudo is made with whatever fish is best at market that day – this time, salmon – a perfect light lunch dish, the fish thinly sliced and dressed with orange and chives. Burratina (burrata) has come all the way from Puglia, and what looks like a ball of fresh mozzarella is actually more of a pouch, filled with dreamy fresh cheese, spilling onto the plate once prodded.
Tomatoes must be Italian, since they’re sweet and taste of the hot, hot sun, and a pesto alongside is refreshingly subtle – a compliment to both cheese and fruit rather than an overwhelming flavour.
The menu at Bernardi’s is always ingredient led, says chef Sabrina Gidda, “we just cook in a really nice, unfussy way which maintains a bit more integrity with ingredients… we’re not deconstructing, there are no foams, no purees, you won’t find flowers on food…that’s just not what we do. I think that’s why people really enjoy the restaurant; it’s just great, tasty food. I take the best of the Italian season, and the best of the British season and I have some incredible suppliers.”
A simple granita arrives, made with Sicilian plums, the flavour intense and fragrant, while a soothing apricot semifreddo is served with crumbled biscuit on top and soft, amber fruits on the side.
The bread too is fantastic. Everything is made fresh on site, says Sabrina, “we bake bread twice a day, make pasta twice a day, and everything we do is in the house, which is really nice – it’s something I’m really proud of.”
It takes a relaxed and confident cook to serve such simple yet skilfully made dishes.
There aren’t so many restaurants that do what Bernardi’s do so well anymore, which is to cater to all of the people all of the time, through breakfast, lunch and dinner, maintaining quality. “There’s only one thing we buy in,” says Sabrina, “and that’s tomato ketchup, because no matter how good the food is, there will always be one person who asks for it.”
More fool them.