Gloria is an Italian trattoria in Shoreditch. Most of its food is good but unmemorable. It is a restaurant built on frills and vanity. It wants and begs you to like it. Its spicy pizza is called The Robert De Nitro. It is completely superficial. It’s the most entertaining restaurant to open in London for years.
The fun starts on the pavement of Great Eastern Street, on Gloria’s yellow and triffid-covered corner, where a cloud of Le Labo hovers over the queue outside, and there are even more Juuls on show than jewellery. The whole scene is about as inconspicuous as a wet dog wearing hi-vis, and things get more in-yer-face inside.
You enter Gloria as an extra, and the restaurant is your manic, medley, film set. Upstairs is the Baz Luhrmann and Paolo Sorrentino collaboration that nobody’s asked for but everybody needs. It’s full of pastel colours, plants, and all kinds of people having a good time. For every Aperol spilt there’s a cushion to cover it up, though none of the Disney-ish staff would care as everything here is very much molto bene. This gloriously naff production is a daytime number. It’s light and bright up here, and your plate of San Daniele ham, or oozy burrata cremosa will look even better in real life. Or, maybe more importantly, on your phone.
Downstairs the set changes to something more wiseguy. It’s all velour, mirrored surfaces, and stripey-shirted staff whistling Luck Be A Lady. This is where you want to be coming for dinner. To glug spirits, chew 8 out of 10 pizzas, and to sing along to everything from Kelis to Cream. The only thing missing from this clubbish scene is a laughing Ray Liotta. Laughing at the gaggling groups everywhere. Laughing at the absurd (and absurdly delicious) quiff of meringue pie. Laughing at how genuinely fun it all is.
Supplementary to this perfectly choreographed shitshow is, of course, the food. Yes, Gloria is a restaurant. One where hushed tones and solemn menu explanations aren’t a feature. Though a humble carbonara (that’s mixed tableside in a giant wheel of pecorino and could probably feature sparklers if you so wished) is. It’s daft, but it’s also delicious. The same goes for the mini football sized profiterole and its pan of melted chocolate. Showy and silly, but seriously good. This is food to fuel your fun, available for every meal of the day.
Here’s where we say that all this razzle-dazzle comes at a cost. Only, it doesn’t. Gloria is pleasantly affordable. A margherita here is £11. Down the road at Dishoom a chicken ruby is the same price, give or take a few pence. And like Dishoom, it feels like the people behind Gloria are trying to set-up a template of a restaurant. First here, and also at their second spot in Fitzrovia. Only, it’s not just good food that they’re offering, it’s good fun. Which is something London needs lots more of.
Gloria is the brunch spot that Shoreditch didn’t know it needed, but it very much does. And these poached eggs on brioche with spinach, hollandaise, and ham are done perfectly.
The description of this ham on the menu sounds a little like a marriage: ‘19 months, everything (about this ham) is perfect’. And they’re right. A must order for under a tenner.
Cutting into this is like cutting into a water-balloon. Only one filled with oozily creamy burrata. Make sure there’s bread on the table for this guy. It’s a serious mopper-upper.
There’s nothing subtle about a pan of homemade truffle covered pasta, but subtle isn’t a trait you come to this restaurant for. The fresh mafalda pasta is perfectly chewy, and if you’re into black truffle and mushrooms then you’ll love this.
Everything served out of an ingredient is simultaneously stupid and suprisingly good. Think about it: pina colada from a pineapple, soup from a bread roll, and now, carbonara from a wheel of pecorino. Even if you’re not here in the evening (it’s dinner-only) the regular old bowl carbonara is just as delicious.
The pizza by which all should be judged, and this is pretty fine version of it. A chewy crust, not too sweet marinara, and just the right amount of sloppiness.
Step down football. Go away rugby. Shut up cricket. There’s a new sport in town, and it involves trying to eat this giant spherical ball of choux pastry that’s filled with cream and covered with a pan of melted chocolate. The 2019 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award goes to: this profiterole.
RIP to a fallen soldier. Pour out your Aperol to one of the greats. This lemon meringue has apparently left the menu. Hopefully temporarily, but who knows? Grab your crystals and do some dessert dances, ’cos we all need this in our lives.