Needham bought the popular café in March and has just completed the transformation to L’Amorosa, serving informal, modern Italian food created from British and Italian ingredients.
The chef, who lives locally, told BigHospitality he wanted to create a neighbourhood restaurant combining his passion for Italian food with the same friendly vibe that Lola & Simón was famous for.
“I just want to serve simple Italian food and good wine in a relaxed environment. If I can do that I will be happy,” he said.
Needham worked at Italy’s La Cinzianella restaurant and spent three years as a sous chef to Giorgio Locatelli at Zafferano before taking the helm as head chef at the Knightsbridge restaurant, a position he held for 12 years before leaving in 2012 to pursue his solo ambitions.
“I have been cooking Italian food for quite a long time and really love the no nonsense simplicity around what you can create, and the focus on seasonal and fresh ingredients,” Needham told BigHospitality.
“The work I did at Zafferano was exactly that, the menu was always based around the ingredients that had come into season, and I will bring those influences to L’Amorosa.”
L’Amorosa’s lunch and evening menus will change weekly, based on seasonal ingredients sourced from the same suppliers the chef used at Zafferano.
Dishes on the current menu include capocolo with fresh figs, rocket and aged balsamic; tortelli of burrata with sweet prawns, chilli and oregano; slow-roasted Salt Marsh lamb shoulder with hazelnut crust, polenta and porcini; and poached pear in red wine with mascarpone sorbet.
Prices for starters range from £6-£8, main courses £9-£18 and desserts £6-£7.
Taking inspiration from the family-friendly café that previously occupied the building, L’Amorosa is also serving breakfasts and brunch, as well as home-made pastries, cakes and coffees throughout the day.
“I took over a café that was already a successful daytime venue – people come here every day for their morning coffee and mums come in the afternoon to have cake with friends,” said Needham.
“It wasn’t really open in the evening though, so I want to build up evening trade and establish a neighbourhood restaurant that is just a nice part of the community.”
The 58-seat restaurant is split over two levels, with seating and the kitchen on the lower floor and a separate mezzanine seating area that looks out over a small garden.
“We have used lots of wood and simple colours to create a Mediterranean feel, lots of reds, oranges and blues,” Needham said. “The tables are all wooden and we are not using tablecloths, it is all very informal.”
L’Amarosa is open daily at 278 King Street, Ravenscourt Park, London, W6 0SP