‘O ver opened its first restaurant in Borough in late 2016 and has just launched at a second site in the new St James’s Market development. ‘O ver are Neapolitan restaurants in heritage and the restaurants’ menus encompass the inspiration of Naples street food and dedication to the finest local ingredients. The word ‘O ver comes from the Neapolitan dialect for “the truth”, which reflects this message of celebrating the simple perfection of the best ingredients from Italian artisans, perfectly cooked. One ingredient in particular that the restaurant is known for is the use of pure Mediterranean seawater in its pizza dough and focaccia. According to ‘O ver, the seawater brings more flavour to the food with less sodium and makes it easier to digest.
‘O ver St James’s is in a spot near Piccadilly Circus in the new St James’s Market development. It’s tucked away on Norris Street in a peaceful courtyard that feels far away from Haymarket and the busy West End. The interior is full of shining, glamorous marble surfaces, bronze accents and natural woods, making it a comfortable and chic space. The restaurant also has a large terrace outside for lounging with a cocktail.
To start, ‘O ver has a collection of cold and warm options, many inspired by Neapolitan street food including the mozzarelline, gooey balls of deep-fried Neapolitan mozzarella, arancino rice balls with smoked mozzarella and sweet peas, frittatina, a deep-fried macaroni tart with smoked ham, sweet peas, parmesan and white sauce, and montanara, a mini deep-fried pizza with cherry tomato sauce and parmesan. Highlights from the cold starters include burrata al tartufo made with organic white truffles from Puglia and the tartare di tonno that combines line-caught red tuna with pink peppercorns, Sicilian olive oil and a delicious avocado and lemon cream.
‘O ver is best known for its pizza, with its chewy flavoursome crispy crust made with seawater, and for using delicious and perfectly proportioned toppings. The menu is divided into red and white pizzas and most of the traditional favourites are there but elevated to a new level of deliciousness and elegance. The regina, for example, includes Neapolitan buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes from Italy and San Marzano DOP tomato sauce, while the salsiccia is topped with smoked buffalo mozzarella from Sorrento, fior di latte mozzarella from Monti Lattari, San Marzano DOP tomato sauce, and ‘Cinta Senese’ Italian pork sausage from Tuscany. White pizzas include a tartufata with white truffle, mozzarella, Italian pork sausage, Italian cherry tomatoes and basil, and the paloma, topped with smoked mozzarella, wild chiodini mushrooms and artisan rolled bacon.
‘O ver also offers a number of tempting pastas including the mezzo pacchero rana pescatrice ai 3 pomodoro made with monkfish, asparagus and potato cream, three colours of cherry tomato and paccheri pasta. The seawater focaccia is deliciously crispy and flavoursome and especially recommended as a side if you aren’t ordering pizza to get a taste of the seawater dough.
For dessert, the tiramisu is difficult to see past, though the stromboli made from pistachio, dark chocolate, vanilla and pistachio Bavarian cream and the tropicana coconut sponge cake with pineapple and lime confit, and lime and white chocolate mousse also come very recommended.
Cocktails are mainly Italian in character and include a beautifully made aged negroni and the sophisticated porto vecchio, crafted from Cocchi Americano white vermouth, Mirto, Gin Mare, fresh rosemary and tonic. The reasonably priced wine list focuses on Italian bottles and has a broad and interesting selection including a good variety of sparkling and dessert wines.
A three-course meal with cocktails and a bottle of wine for two people, from £120.
Relaxed and sophisticated, with superlative ingredients and cooking, ‘O ver St James’s will become a go-to for everything from business lunches to celebrations in central London.