There are times you wonder if traditional Italian restaurants might be under threat as sharply lit chains and sophisticated, upmarket alternatives move in. With its wood panelling, chairs from the 80s and music from the 50s, La Lanterna, tucked down just below street level on the busy restaurant alley of Hanover Street, shines a light for good old fashioned, warm hospitality. Hostess Toni Zaino and her attentive, good-humoured front-of-house team ensure you're seated, wined, dined and offered black pepper from the two-foot-long grinder. Over 25 pasta dishes form the heart of the menu, from the deep savouriness of aubergine, tomato and anchovy linguine Lanterna to the steaming sweetness of linguine alla vongole in its foil-wrapped package. For the semi-open kitchen at the back of the room it's all tried, tested and reliably tasty; ditto the house wines, the starters of calamari or crostini, the desserts of cassata or tiramisu. Whether you've been coming here for 30 years or you're in town for the night, you can't help but be embraced by the timeless values of pleasant food and caring service.
- High point: You're looked after. Proper.
- Low point: Death by double cream pasta sauces.
- Provides: Gluten-free options, Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Outdoor tables
- Music on stereo: Best of the 50s/60s/70s
- Capacity: 60
- Largest group: 60
- Open since: 1982
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 3
- House wine: £15.95 (litre) per bottle