1 Vyner Street, E2 9DG
0208 981 5150
AKA: The one to turn Scarface over a plate of spaghetti
The deal: If you turn your back to Mare St, focus on the chalkboard menu with changing daily dishes (whatever Andrea the chef feels like cooking that day), order an Aperol Spritz and listening to the staff happily chatting away in Italian, you might actually forget you're in Hackney. Look, we said might, OK? Sometimes the restaurant is chaotic, you might have to wait at the bar for a bit or they might be fresh out of your favourite dish – but que sera. When the food's this hearty and so lovingly hand-crafted, who cares?
The food: This is straight-up Italian - specifically Venetian - food, done just like you dreamed it. There's always a casual, friendly vibe so make like a proper Italian family and dig in to a plate of Italian cured meats and hams (£12) or the new fish platter (£11). Follow it up with a big chunk of melt-in-the-middle burrata cheese served with the perfect garnish of a little rocket, cherry tomatoes and balsamic dressing. Now for the important bit - the pasta. All the pasta is handmade on the premises each day and is served with ballsy sauces like the rich ragu (£8) or pesto al Genovese (£7.50). Fish is always a strong option on the menu, from the baccala mantecato (a sort of whipped, salted cod pate) and polenta (£15) or the Ginger Pig offerings, such as the flavoursome and expertly grilled beef tagliata (£12) . Make sure you don't skip dessert - you're a fool if you don't give their perfect Tiramisu a whirl (£5).
The signature dish: Spaghetti ragu
The chef: Andrea Michelon
When to dine: Friday night, end of week blow out. But make sure to stop by on the first Thursday of each month where the restaurant turns into a bar for the art-crowd offering chicchetti, little traditional Venetian bites.
Damage to pocket: It's always seriously good value. Expect to pay around £8 for a pasta dish, but you're going to want to go all out on three courses and wine, which will clock in around £25.
File under: Cheap eats, Chomping Ground favourite