Stationed on a busy corner of Kensington High Street, Como Garden is a laid-back neighbourhood pan-Italian restaurant, serving sharing plates of antipasti, pasta, meats, vegetables, salads and more, in a snug setting meant to evoke the famed northern Italian hotspot of Lake Como. Como Garden is part of the Emerald Hospitality Group, which includes Zuaya (located just next door) and Mayfair’s El Norte.
Como Garden has an intimate size and tables are laid out in booths, with the circular booths in the middle being the top spots. The decor is made up of tiled floors and lots of fake greenery including walls clad in plastic ivy and a faux olive tree in the centre. There are also Roman statues throughout, and frosted glass makes for a nice barrier between the restaurant and pedestrians, though there are also tables outside (on the less busy Kensington Court). The restaurant would benefit from the soft lighting of an evening meal, but in the bright light of day (I went for lunch), the atmosphere reads as a little kitschy, and the restaurant’s age was highlighted. However, I did appreciate the cute painted ceramic tableware and the fun music.
During a weekend lunch, the crowd was varied, but more importantly, it was there. I was impressed that Como Garden was able to attract such a strong following. There was a real mix of people too from couple shopping to day-time dates.
Como Garden is designed as a sharing menu concept with two to three dishes per person. I did a nice assortment of fried courgette (lovely, crispy, and summer fresh); fried calamari and caponata (both unremarkable); and pastas. The pastas—a summer truffle and a pesto—were definitely the best dishes, though they weren’t easy to share. The handmade pesto was served with gorgeous trofie pasta that was obviously also made by hand, and the summer truffle was full of flavour, leading me to believe that it was made with fresh truffle rather than something preserved. For dessert, I went for torta di mandorle (almond cake), which had a fine, soft, and moist texture, and it was served with creamy pistachio gelato, which again, hit the mark.
Como Garden has a small-but-well curated wine list, with Soave, Etna Rosso, and Falanghina (not always easy to find); as well as all the Italian favourites (Montepulciano, Chianti, etc.). The cocktails are pretty standard with some fun additions (see the Como Fizz with gin, basil, sugar and cucumber).
In a Nutshell
Italian tapas in a lively setting.
37-45 Kensington High St, W8 5ED; 020 7937 7287; www.comogarden.co.uk