It’s hard to escape the muck of Covent Garden – the whiz of tourists’ cameras, the plod of gawping visitors and the oh-so-many terrible, terrible places to eat and drink. Dalla Terra is new, it is smart, it is friendly: in short, nothing like the rest of Covent Garden. A sort of wine bar-cum-cafe-cum-shop, Dalla Terra rises above the mass of wine bars in London, and you wouldn’t think that tasting and snacking in a shop could be cosy, but here it is.
The sensibility is simple: tables made from lacquered particle board offset the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of wine that line both sides of the cafe, which boasts great views onto Saint Martin’s Courtyard from its entirely windowed front facade. Dalla Terra is managed by Giuseppe Gullo – a native of the south of Italy who grew up surrounded by wine – with a kitchen overseen by chef Araldo De Vitis, who cut his teeth at the inimitable St. John Bar & Restaurant in Smithfield. It’s all about casual chic, with seasonally prepared Italian snacks that are paired perfectly with Dalla Terra’s list of 30 wines that are served by the glass. Not really a proper London restaurant, this is more a place to order everything on the menu over the course of an entire night.
The shop carries 180 wines by the bottle, ranging from a mere £17 up to the £250, and it’s so central as to be a great refuge from the crowds of a shopping Saturday, or even a pre-theatre pop-in.