When you think of the best restaurants in London, you'd immediately imagine swanky dining experiences, with Michelin stars lighting up the sky, a waiting list of several decades and astronomical prices befitting a divine gastronomic experience.
But, it seems that the reviewers of TripAdvisor look beyond such flamboyance, and are impressed by something altogether more humble.
A small family-run Italian restaurant in Lewisham, just a few doors down from a Lidl supermarket on Sydenham Road, has recently claimed the top spot as the most highly-rated restaurant in the capital. Trattoria Raffaele has a five star average from 141 reviews with enthusiastic comments as far as the eye can read.
Now it seems that people are making the restaurant a prime destination on their trips from abroad.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, owner Raffaele Giannandrea explained “We find it quite amusing because not everybody knows where Sydenham is. We get a lot of foreigners coming over. A family came from Arizona recently. A lot of Chinese people are showing an interest. But because they stay in central London, Notting Hill and places, they say ‘are you far away?’ It’s not very far away really, but when they get to London it fizzles out a bit once they see where we are.”
The restaurant has been running for 45 years and was originally managed by Raffaele's father Dominic, who is now 78. Raffaele was previously a professional golfer, but returned to Sydenham in 2008 to take the reigns, introducing "fresh pizza, fresh pasta, breads...Everything is made here... When we opened eight years ago there weren’t any pizza places around here but as things progressed, the area got a little bit better, we’re selling more fish, meats and doing different specials every week."
He continued: “I was brought up in Sydenham, my dad come over years ago. I’m an Englishman but I’ve got a big Italian influence. Last week we had grilled sea bass, roast pork belly, homemade fettuccine, meatballs made with pork and veal, seafood spaghetti. We want to do things the way we want, but we also have to cater for the people that have margheritas and bolognese.”
The restaurant hit top spot on Monday but has since been overtaken by Fiddie's Italian Kitchen in Swiss Cottage, however, we're sure Raffaele and the gang will be back on the top of the tree before long and, besides, Swiss Cottage is a bit posh so they're at an advantage.
Check out the top 10 here - you'll be guaranteed a good bit of grub if you visit one of these.