Nice Italian hidden off the beaten track, in a bit of a weird location near Highbury & Islington tube. It’s the baby of a former River Café maitre d, and the chef trained at Fifteen, St John and Moro, so on paper at least, a winner.
The menu changes every day, with only a small number of usual suspects. It’s hearty, clever Italian food and the menu allows for either a traditional starter and main approach, or more of a ‘small plates’ order-a-few things-and-share approach. We went with the latter. The highlights were the Crispy Lamb Forequarter and the Parpadelle with Beef Shin Ragu – both were absolutely yummy. The lemon sole with wilted Italian greens and brown crab, and the swaledale lamb shoulder with castelluccio lentils were good, but I probably wouldn’t rave about them.
We were in a hurry pre-theatre so stuck to cocktails – I had the in-cocktail-of-the-moment, a very good Aperol Spritz (although I think it was going by the name Trullo Spritz for some reason…). The wine list is good, but a bit overwhelming with over 350 different bottles and detailed descriptions. That said, you can get a carafe rather than a bottle which is always helpful, and bottles start at a reasonable £20-£25.
The staff were very friendly, but the busyness just seemed a bit much for them, so we struggled getting our hands on drinks and managing to order. That said, once we told them we were in a hurry, they couldn’t have been more helpful.
It has a great buzz and is busy every night of the week – it would be a brilliant second date venue and the food is very tasty – I’d definitely go back and take some friends. It’s probably not quite as good as tinello food-wise, but is a bit younger and ‘trendier’ so it depends which you prioritise. It was more expensive than I expected it to be (although we did drink cocktails) – they do an incredible £12 lunch deal and a four course Sunday lunch though which I’d definitely like to try.
GO THERE IF…
You’re a fan of ‘proper’ Italian food and need somewhere easy for a catch up with friends in that part of London
You’re not a big fan of the yuppy-upper-street vibe
IF YOU’RE PRETENDING TO HAVE BEEN THERE DON’T FORGET TO MENTION
The portions are quite small – if you’re starving make sure you embrace the bread basket first.
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