Trullo ****

Simple daily menu with excellent pasta and chargrilled dishes coupled with friendly service makes visiting Trullo a must. Don’t leave without trying the salty caramel ice-cream!

Quail fritti with salsa verde

Quail fritti with salsa verde

Located close to Highbury & Islington station on St Pauls Road is Trullo, the new Italian restaurant run by chef Tim Siadatan and front of house manager Jordan Frieda. Tim, one of the original Fifteen trainees, spent time working at St John and Moro, and Jordan Frieda is ex-River Cafe front of house. 300 St Pauls Road has been home to several eateries including an organic British cafe and an Italian jazz restaurant, however it is only its latest incarnate, Trullo, that has got the media in a frenzy. Glowing reviews from Time Out, The Observer, The Evening Standard and the blogosphere have made getting a reservation at Trullo rather challenging.

Red leg partridge with swedes and carrots

Red leg partridge with swedes and carrots

I finally managed to get a booking for myself and four other friends last Wednesday evening. Trullo is a small neighbourhood restaurant with an intimate vibe, and at 9pm service was in full swing. Retro kitsch cafe curtains, made out of net, cover the bottom half of the windows, so passers-by are able to steal furtive glances into this otherwise modern urban styled restaurant. Our table was not ready when we arrived, and after waiting five minutes in the rather narrow vestibule, we were ushered to the bar area. The friendly barman promptly took our order, however there wasn’t much room for five people to stand at the bar, and we often found ourselves getting in the way of various wait staff. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long for our table.

The Trullo menu changes on a daily basis and is structured around antipasti, primi, and secondi dishes from the charcoal grill and oven. From the antipasti section we ordered the artichoke soup with crispy pig’s ear, chargrilled ox heart with coco blanc and quail fritti with salsa verde. Everything was cooked perfectly, however it was the chargrilled ox heart, which tasted like thin slices of succulent beef, that was exceptional. The herby citrus sauce that came with the fried quail was also delicious.

From the primi section we ordered the pappardelle with veal shank and the calf’s brain ravioli with sage butter. The al dente pappardelle covered in the tomato based veal sauce was tasty, but it was the ravioli that had us wanting seconds. The calf’s brain ravioli were perfectly cooked and its accompanying sage butter sauce was to die for. We couldn’t let any of it go to waste so we greedily mopped up the last drops with our bread.

Moving onto the mains, we ordered the whole mackerel with braised fennel and salsa rossa, as well as the 35 day hung T-bone steak with wild porcini and potato al forno from the charcoal grill. Again, the food was faultless. Both the caramelized fennel and the fiery salsa rossa combined well with the grilled mackerel. The steak was huge and more suitable for sharing. Admittedly, our waitress did warn us of its massive proportions, but my ravenous friend was up for a challenge and unwisely chose to ignore her advice. It was incredibly flavoursome and nice and pink inside. We also ordered the whole plaice with anchovy rosemary dressing and the red leg partridge with swede and carrots. The whole plaice worked well with the peppy dressing, however the partridge was rather disappointing, tasting like dry roast chicken.

For dessert, we ordered two scoops of the salted caramel ice cream and the cheese plate. The salty caramel ice cream had us all dumbstruck by its luscious salty toffee flavour. Whoever made it is a demigod. The cheese board was also phenomenal, with the Taleggio la Baita having a wonderful after taste of grapes and the Gorgonzola dolce tasting incredibly mild and creamy.

35 day hung T-bone steak, wild porcini and potato al forno

35 day hung T-bone steak, wild porcini and potato al forno

Including (an overindulgent) 4 glasses of wine each plus coffee, the bill came to £40 per person. Overall, the food at Trullo was well executed and the succinct menu was refreshing. Service at Trullo was very attentive and friendly, and it was nice to see co-owner Jordan Frieda together with his wife (ex-venture capitalist turned restauranteur!) both hustling on front of house that evening. My only minor dig is that they don’t have any standing space, however I did hear rumours that they were planning to convert their basement into an antipasti lounge, so that standing issue may soon be resolved.

Trullo, 302 St Paul’s Rd, London N1 2LH. 0207 226 2733

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