Covent Gardens New Italian Funhouse: Ave Mario

Ave Mario is the third of the Big Mama restaurants to open up in London; after Circolo Popolare in Soho and Gloria in Shoreditch. These quirky Italian restaurants are well known for their impressive interiors and tasty food, and also that fact that they're almost impossible to get a booking at.

So with news of their new restaurant opening, I had to get smart. I signed up to their newsletter which gave me a little pre-launch nudge. This had me drop everything and log on to find I had the option of any time or day my heart desired within two weeks of it opening. 
I finally got my booking. Well done me!

Inconspicuous on the outside - compared to the inside at least, Ave Mario is situated on Henrietta street which seems to be where it's at this summer.

Once you pass the white net curtain and enter the actual restaurant, it's kinda like you've arrived in wonderland - although it's not just the crazy decor that hits you, its the atmosphere too, it's buzzing.
Like the photos I've seen online of Circolo Popolare, the back wall is stacked with 3000 bottles although Ave Mario is much quirkier and in your face than its older sibling. The first thing you see are the thick lines of black and white tiles running along the walls, across the ceiling and back along the other side; with the addition of trashy fluorescent signs and opulent red velvet wherever you are seated, it's like some kind of fun house.
The huge central skylight is a nice touch.
That was just one part of this huge, crazy place. Head down the little stairs at the back and you're in a different place altogether. Instantly transported to what feels like a little family run restaurant somewhere in rural Italy - tiled walls, wooden tables and much quieter; you know the kind.

Down a further set of stairs you'll find a third dining room come cosy cocktail bar - similar to the first room, plus the most amazing rainbow toilet.

Now let it be said, for me, the food itself is nice enough but not really anything to write home about. I had the exact same thought when ordering from Napoli Gang, which was the takeaway service they opened in SW London during lockdown,
But hear me out; when you pair that with the incredibly fun venue, the electric atmosphere and the theatrics of it all, suddenly this average Italian food is worth traveling half way across London for. By the time our two hours were up and we were asked to leave, I didn't want to go. I could have stayed there all night sipping on giant cocktails. It really was a lot of fun and I am very excited to do it all over again, just as soon as I can get another booking. 


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