L‘Anima, the City’s new authentic, regional Italian hotspot, has been on my list since even before its long-anticipated, much-delayed opening only a couple of months ago. A five-month wait has created much suspense and expectation, but Chef Francesco Mazzei, formerly of St. Alban, is not complaining – “I’ve had time to travel more and source better suppliers, we’ve tested the equipment and I have the costings sorted. The kitchen is under control and I feel like we can manage things properly” – so neither shall I.
First impressions were very favourable: entering through the immense, restaurant-wide glass façade, one is immediately struck and soothed by L’Anima’s beauty, elegance and tranquillity. Designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin, clean, clear lines and geometric shapes feature heavily in this minimalist space. The rich, robust ingredients that make up the interior – brown porphyry walls, beige limestone travertine floors, French limestone corridors that lead to the Cistercian private dining crypt, wine cellar and bathrooms – show strength and solidity and combine to convince that this restaurant has already stood the test of time and will continue to do so. The dining area, sated with the sunlight that soaks through those large windows, is immaculate and open; generously spaced, wide tables, decked in pristine, angelic, white napery, are complemented by matching white, cosy leather chairs. It is luxurious, refined and yet charming and comfortable; one feels as if floating on a cloud. In fact, this cloud-like white complements the earthy brown of the walls, evoking a sense of heaven and earth. Actually, Silvestrin is rather partial to the elements – water, fire, earth – and draws on these themes for inspiration here. The whole restaurant is really rather exquisite with a definite, expressive charisma. It is inviting, nourishing and calming, but also graceful and sophisticated; L’Anima is indeed soulful.