434 Kingsland Road E8 4AA
0207 249 9081
AKA: The one for a chi-chi Italian in D-town
The deal: A decent Italian that end of Kingsland Road? Yep, Stevie Parle (Dock Kitchen, River Cafe) made like Field Of Dreams: he built it, and indeed they came. Opening its (unmarked) doors in April 2014, the restaurant has been packed out since then thanks to the critics declaring their undying love for it, but more importantly, because the food's really good. We were presented with a complimentary glass of prosecco on entry, so there was no way we weren't going to love this place too. A broad range of expertly put-together little Southern Italian plates, an equally impressive wine list and attentive staff means it's never going to be short of customers. The best bit? Half the restaurant takes bookings, so no more standing outside in a line for a table for hours and feeling like a bit of a prick. That said, there's plenty of walk-in space – about 40 places a night – so chances are you won't be waiting around even if you had booked. Most excellent.
The food: If you were to travel and take a culinary trip through the likes of Sardinia or Palermo, these are exactly the sort of dishes you'd handpick to return home with. Kicking things off from the 'cold' section is a sea bream carpaccio (£7.50), bathing in the incredible house olive oil with a few cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of chilli flakes. Chick pea fritters (£3.5) are chunky, tasty and not too greasy, served with a good wedge of lemon – and also battered deep fried sage leaves. The pasta course really comes into its own with a stunning and silky pea gnudi (£7), a sort of ricotta and pea dumpling, sitting in a good dose of warmed sage butter. Want to get meaty? Stick with the sausage meat casarecce (£8) while the hanger steak (£10) comes sliced and cooked to perfection.
The signature dish: The pea gnudi. By God, it's good.
The chef: Stevie Parle
When to dine: Weekends and birthday blow outs - you can book the entire 26-seater table for your whole gang
Damage to pocket: With plates clocking in at about £8 each, you'll need four or so to fill up, so with some wine expect to pay about £40 a head.
File under: Celebrate good times, date night, great with mates, mid-week munches