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Da Terra named SquareMeal’s No. 1 restaurant in London for 2023

Rafael Cagli’s experimental fusion of Latin American and Italian cuisines has won over the tastebuds of critics and diners alike, crowned SquareMeal’s most highly rated London restaurant for the year ahead.

Bethnal Green’s two Michelin star restaurant Da Terra has been named SquareMeal’s number one restaurant in London for 2023. 

Awarded on January 16, the announcement was made as a part of SquareMeal’s annual awards, crowning the top 100 restaurants in the UK and London. 

Restaurants are judged on a combination of the opinion of SquareMeal’s in-house critics and thousands of votes from readers and diners. 

A fusion of Latin American cuisine with Italian notes, Da Terra’s experimental offering is inspired by head chef Rafael Cagli’s Italian and Brazilian origins and his wide-ranging culinary career. 

After being crowned London’s best, Cagli thanked his partner Charlie Lee who runs Da Terra’s front of house, and said: ‘It is such an honour to be Squaremeal’s best London restaurant for 2023, what a way to start the year! I am very lucky to have such a passionate and hard-working team around Charlie and myself and nothing could be achieved without them.’

Looking back on 2022, Lee said: ‘A highlight for the restaurant was retaining our two Michelin stars as well as seeing so many return guests come and dine with us again. We always try to make eating at Da Terra a friendly and welcoming experience so we are glad to see so many friendly faces return.’

Opening in the heart of Bethnal Green in 2019, Da Terra sits within an Edwardian building. In contrast to its exterior, it has a simplistic, modern look offering an elegant and technical dining experience with a playful edge.

Rather than selecting the dishes yourself, guests are presented with a blind tasting menu of at least nine courses, with a selection of wines to complement the food. 

The restaurant’s name means from the ground, born out of the idea that food reflects where we come from, as well as literally being from the roots and the soil beneath us. As Lee said: ‘Our menu is always changing based on the seasons and the produce we get in through the doors each day.’ 

From mushroom and taleggio doughnut bites to aged turbot with manteiguinha beans and farofa (your guess is as good as mine), luckily Da Terra’s expert chefs are on hand to guide diners through each dish. They suggest that you leave at least three hours to be immersed in this sensory dining experience. 

With dinner and lunch tasting menus priced at £215 and £155 respectively, such a fine dining experience doesn’t come cheap, but Lee assures us that Da Terra has some exciting plans in store for 2023 that are being kept top secret for now. 

And if you’re looking for a rather more relaxed meal in the area, Italina on Cambridge Heath Road comes highly recommended by Cagli and Lee – you might even find them in there enjoying one of the restaurant’s Napoli-style pizzas on a well-earnt day off.  

If you enjoyed this article, find our food review of Lanterna, Fish Island’s smart new pizzeria. 

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