Esca first opened in 2004 with celebrity chef Francesco Mazzei and team and for the past 13 years we have dedicated ourselves to Clapham; becoming known as the peoples place. Following a recent transformation Esca is now both a beautiful rustic style restaurant, combining the Italian and Celtic routes of its name, serving authentic homemade pasta, mouth watering grilled dishes as well as cooked English breakfasts; and display an even better than ever self-service lunch of scrumptious hot foods, cakes and Tavola Calda. Everything from the muffins and salads, to the sandwich bread and expertly made pasta are produced by the hands of our talented chefs.

Over the past 30 years owner Sami Wasif has pioneered and contributed to some of London’s most formidable food concepts which have contributed to the current London food scene including Eco Pizzeria, Absolutely Starving, Hakkasan, Franco Manca and The Peppertree amongst others.

Esca has been a project close to Sami's heart; as it is a gathering place which the community have enjoyed for many years. It is Sami's wish with the current re-design to reveal a much more comfortable space that morphs from day through night highlighting the wish of the local punters of authentic Anglo-Italian food and design at incredible value..

The word 'Esca' is very old. Scholars argue whether its roots are Latin but also Celtic, British or Gaelic. It's meanings are various: 'fodder', 'lure', 'bait', 'decoy' and 'tinder', but the word was most commonly used mean 'river'.

Artist Paul Davis has used these ideas as the starting point for a unique mural commissioned for the restaurant and in collaboration with creative director Stephen Coates he developed a related artwork for the signage, menus and website.

Despite the large wall space that Davis was given as a canvas he decided to create something that wouldn't dominate the new environment. He wanted to enhance, not disturb the convivial experience of eating great food and drinking good wine in an alluring space. The idea of a riverlike shape snaking its way along the 19-metre length of the restaurant was suggested. It would be carved into the existing plasterwork to reveal the base brickwork. After much chopping and chiselling [and discussions with the owner Sami Wasif], the result is dramatic and apt.

Related imagery surrounds this central carved motif. These are drawn directly onto the surface with pen, brush and spray paint and include early grills and cooking utensils, diagrams showing the science of water-flow and fire, how things combust, equations explaining the often overlooked, the technology of the canal, water-system symbolism, and strangely named fish hooks. Davis has also annotated certain areas of the wall with invented names of river domains using the old English waterbased suffixes like bourne, shore, strand, pond and stream. Aerosol blobs were later added to lead the eye across the artwork, perhaps directing them to discover discreet and often witty details.

For Coates, the river theme suggested a graphic solution based on an unbroken flowing line used singularly or in multiples - where possible these lines were to appear continuous, looping and meandering across and around the awning and fascia, the menus and the website.

In the interior, there are two other artistic interventions. Towards the back of the restaurant, filling the wall space above the leather banquettes, are a set of specially-commissioned large prints also based on science and geography. Their layered surfaces depict now extinct dry riverbeds from our moon, Mars and the moons of Saturn. They are again made by Davis but utilise a more graphic aesthetic - though they are visually linked by the use of the same aerosolapplied coloured blobs. A further set of individual prints line the stairwell and continue this theme where old cookery engravings juxtapose scientific diagrams and images of planetary canals. Amongst these the large print called 'Planets of UnFailure', is Davis's beautiful and witty commentary on the state of the world.

©2016 Paul Davis

Opening times

Monday to Sunday 9am to 11pm
Breakfast daily 9am to12pm

Brunch Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 3pm
followed by late night opening.

Book a table

The Great Table can take up to 18 people and will need to be reserved by telephone on 020 7622 2288


Our candlelit Great Table is available for groups of up to 18 people. For smaller groups we also have two cosy booths with sumptuous leather-clad banquettes for parties of between 8 and 10.

Please call to check availability


160 Clapham High Street,
Tel: 020 7622 2288
[email protected]
[email protected]

Esca is now pleased to offer easy
wheelchair access to bathrooms.

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