Set up by friends, Simone Lavarini and Lorenzo Fraquelli, Spaghetti House has been part of London since 1955 serving mouthwatering Italian food to generations of Londoners and visitors.Today Spaghetti House is still very much a family business with the 2nd generation of Lavarini’s at the helm.
Laying the foundations
The group's history goes back to 1955, when two talented Northern Italians - Lorenzo Fraquelli and Simone Lavarini - opened their first, now famous, Spaghetti House in London's Goodge Street - The Original Spaghetti House.
It was the culmination of a seven-year dream for Lorenzo and Simone, who had first met at Bar Italia in London’s Soho in 1948. In the ensuing years, Lorenzo worked at the original Quaglino's in London and Simone in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he qualified as Maître d'Hotel in 1950. Simone then returned to London and secured a position at the Savoy Hotel.
The two friends eagerly explored the restaurant scene, carefully noting how the market was diversifying and excitedly sharing a vision and a will to recreate the essence of a true Italian restaurant outside their home country: providing high quality, reasonably priced food and wine to Londoners.
A junior partnership in Jermyn Street's Mocaris, a West End Caffé Espresso Bar, led to the friends branching off in 1953 on their first joint venture, the Bamboo Bar in Golders Green, North London's first coffee house. It proved a stepping stone which ultimately led them to Goodge Street, and the opening of London's first-ever Spaghetti House on the ground floor of the building (the idea of inviting people to a 'house' rather than to a 'restaurant' reflected the warm, traditional Italian welcome). Spaghetti House's motto, which still holds good today, was a simple one - 'spaghetti, but not on toast!'
And so the family grew...
The initial growth years were 1955 - 1959. As customers flocked to Goodge Street, the restaurant extended to four floors. In the ensuing years, successful restaurant upon restaurant opened, in many of London's most fashionable areas, from glamorous Knightsbridge to literary Bloomsbury.
Key to its success was the mouth-watering, home-made pasta dishes. People all over the UK were starting to discover the joys of pasta, and to experience the taste of quality Chianti wine out of straw-covered bottles. Spaghetti House was, without doubt, the forerunner of Italian restaurants in the 50's and 60's - and although at that time nobody talked about 'Mediterranean diet' - this is exactly what it did, and still does.
Pasta was, and is still, always served 'al dente' (with a bite) to the surprise of the first few customers who were informed “that’s the way Italians eat their pasta” – alongside olive oil, Parma ham and fresh parmesan.
Yet these first few restaurants were just the beginning for Lorenzo and Simone, who had by now become brothers-in-law through marrying two sisters. Further restaurants were to follow and evolve over the ensuing years. Today, you will find 10 Spaghetti House restaurants across London. Employing over 250 people but still being driven by the ‘passione’ of Simone and his children. Simone can still often be found instructing the chefs and staff whilst enjoying lunch or dinner in his ‘house’. As we say in Italy –