What's the draw:
The latest restaurant to make London to lose its collective head, Gloria comes from the bombastic Big Mamma group, a Parisian hospitality group specialising in pan-Italian comfort food. Expect laid-back service from its uniformed waiting staff, hearty dishes, a particularly buzzing, velvet-bedecked room and a constant queue of hungry people snaking tens of metres down Great Eastern Street from opening till closing.
What to drink:
There's a great list of tried-and-tested cocktails given the Gloria treatment, leaning as you might expect towards spritzes and other aperitifs. We had the Spritz Veneziano, built around Select Aperitivo and Plymouth Gin infused with thyme, blood orange, prosecco and finished with a hearty olive, for a sweet, savoury and lip-smacking pre-dinner drink that's guaranteed to get your stomach rumbling. That is, if the wait for a table hasn't done so already. With food, we went for a classic Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from the house selection – pleasingly straightforward, very affordable at £33, and versatile enough to match with starters, pasta and pizza.
What to eat:
The short answer here is 'pretty much everything' – the menu sings with versatility and invariably people-pleasing and delicious-sounding dishes, so strap in and load up. San Daniele ham is a blanket of softly salted, umami-rich flavour, while crunchy, salted deep-fried artichoke leaves come with a salaciously flavoured cacio e pepe – Parmigiano-Reggiano and black pepper – sauce. Meatballs are gamey, in a pool of simply cooked San Marzano tomato sauce so rich it brings to mind squeezing the ripe fruit in a closed palm. A coiled snake of continuous ravioli stuffed with light polenta and a slow-braised rabbit ragu is great, as is the YouPorn Pizza, a take on a classic salsiccia e friarelle. Save room for dessert, too: either tiramisu dished up generously from a hulking dish, or the standout lemon meringue tart, with an implausibly big, snowy pillow of lightly torched meringue atop its custard-rich lemon curd. We had both. Obviously.
Secondi plates from £12, wine by the glass from £5; 54-56 Great Eastern Street, Hackney, EC2A 3QR; bigmammagroup.com