Friday, 1 February 2013

Trullo, Islington

Way back in the mists of time (well, 2011) I visited Trullo for lunch and I remembered being dumbstruck by a beautiful, silken dish of tagliolini with courgettes and brown shrimp. Ordered to share between my friend and I as a in betweeny starter and main, it stole the show for me. There was a delicacy to it, a lightness to the dish but also it was also luxurious - I imagine it was swimming in butter. The restaurant was busy - really busy, with families and couples alike lunching. Therefore, I was surprised when before Christmas an email landed in my inbox from their PR asking if I'd like to go and review it.

I would have written about it when I first went had I not been writing about it for someone else, so I accepted but then had to cancel due to sickness. A certain sense of relief came from the cancellation; I had done much agonising over whether I want to do invite-to-reviews anymore. It sounds spoilt of me, but I find the whole process toe-curlingly awkward; from the knowing look when you walk in and tell them your name, to the (usually) desperate to please service and all the time I'm thinking 'god, all this for ME?'. And then you get to that bill stage, or rather the lack of it; the signal to end meals and leave is not there anymore and each time I felt like a criminal asking for my jacket and shuffling out of there without that finality. All that before you even get down to the whole subjectivity argument. 

So I decided to go on my own dollar and I'm jolly pleased to report that the pasta was still astonishingly good, the staff still friendly and attentive and packed out on a Tuesday night until 9:30pm, when we managed to nab a last-minute table. After a fortifying quince and prosecco cocktail at the bar, we settled down to our table to order. I wasn't enormously hungry (for once) so I opted for a starter and a pasta.

I love bitter leaves and chicory and dandelion are amongst my favourite. Blood orange segments softened the bitterness somewhat, and the curls of cheese slowly mixed into the dressing, giving it creaminess. A near-perfect balance of flavours.

Obviously I'm going to win photographer of the year with my picture of what can only look like worms in cheese - you'll have to take my word for it that the pici with Amalfi lemon, garlic, marjoram and parmesan was glorious. When asked what pici was, our waiter said it was like a hand-rolled spaghetti, a little thicker and without egg in the dough. Being a huge fan of anything noodle-shaped, I was sold. The pasta was chewy, not soft and the lemon sauce not in the slightest bit astringent but rather more gentle and perfumed. Not cheap at £9 for a small portion, mind. 

Beef shin pappardelle was equally well received (and equally dear), though a main course of mackerel cooked on the charcoal grill could have benefitted with a little more time on the heat. 

We rounded off our meal nicely with a wibbly-wobbly lemon tart and another bottle of wine before we eventually got the message that perhaps the staff might want to go home. There's often talk of places outside W1 being nice 'neighbourhood' restaurants but I'd cross town for Trullo's pasta so I won't put it in that camp. 

300 - 302 St Paul's Road
London N1 2LH

Tel: 020 7226 2733

Trullo on Urbanspoon


Shu Han said...

haha that's what I thought when I saw the worms in cheese photo on instagram. But I trust it tasted amazing.

Thunderstorm Bun said...

So what's in the dough if it's not egg - water?

Hollow Legs said...

Shu - it was very dark in there!

Thunderstorm bun - yes I imagine so.

Unknown said...

I've just found myself in that same predicament having been invited by PR to somewhere I hand't heard of but the way you described the awkwardness of it all I'll definitely say no!
From Samphire and Salsify (boy)

Hollow Legs said...

Ha - hello mr samphire! To be fair other bloggers don't seem to have a problem with it. It's just not for me.

Sharmila said...

I adored my pasta when I went towards the end of last year. I bet the brown shrimpy one was lovely.

And I hear you on the invite to review malarkey. I'm awkwardly English at the best of times. Throw that into the mix and it's all just too much.

Chris Pople said...


I loved Trullo too. About time I went back really.

Anthony Silverbrow said...

It's great. Only problem is bagging a table. All too often it requires a month or two. But it is good and the bellinis in summer only make things better.

Hollow Legs said...

Sharmila - the brown shrimpy one was amazing. I've tried to recreate it to no avail. I hear ya - I must be more British than I thought.


Anthony - Ahhh roll on the summer. We managed to get a table on the same evening, though we did have to eat at 9:30pm.

Food Urchin said...

Just as well that you did pay. If I had been the PR, I would have been like "Lizzy! That looks like worms? Oh FFS!"

The Grubworm said...

I'm with you all the way on awkwardness and sheer not-fun-ness of doing paid for reviews. I used to hate feeling the pressure to order something because I felt I should rather than because I wanted to eat it. And you nailed the feeling at the end of the meal perfectly.

I'm glad Trullo is still as good as it always has been. I rate it as one of e best Italian eating experiences I have had in London both because of the food and the atmosphere there. And yes, their pasta - worm like or otherwise - is truly superb.