Test Drives

I have to make something clear at the outset. I live VERY close to Trullo - about 3 minutes walk away. Some weeks ago I found myself regularly passing the creation of a new restaurant on the way to the office and, naturally, was intrigued.

The spot where Trullo now resides was once the home of Islington's Gill Wing Cafe. This was one of those neighbourhood institutions that locals remember fondly, but few can admit to actually visiting during its dying days. It was replaced by Osso - we think. That restaurant's name was written over it's awning in a number of directions, so that we were never actually sure what it was called...

So the premises of Trullo once had a good pedigree - but it's been a while since the place shone. With Trullo on the way, promising veterans of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen (chef Tim Siataden) and the River Cafe (Jordan Freida), there was renewed optimism that the place's fortunes could be revived. And that optimism has indeed proved justified.

We were invited to Trullo to spend a hot summer's lunchtime. Thankfully, plenty of desk-fans and the shade from the front awning ensured we were in for a pleasant experience even before the food arrived. The restaurant is small, seating about 40, and Trullo has had little problem filling that space every night since its rave review in the Evening Standard.

Hot Dinners  Test Drive


Where is it?
300 - 302 St Paul's Road, London N1 2LH

Suitable for?
Foodies, wine lovers, locals, anyone looking for good, affordable food.

What should I order?
Everything changes regularly at Trullo, so it's hard to pick a specific dish.  But it's certainly worth trying any of the freshly made pasta, the fish or the panna cotta if it's on offer.

Read what the critics thought

Once seated, we glanced at the menu. Trullo is focused on ordering the best ingredients and serving them at a decent, affordable price. So you get a menu with 3-4 choices per course and it's a menu that changes regularly.

I began with an Ox tongue starter - a great light dish before the main  - While Catherine (sister and Hot Dinners co-founder) had an excellent quail with radiccio salad which also included an unbilled piece of toasted bread with quail pate.  Both were great, but it was the main course which really shined.  I had tagliarini with brown shrimp and chilli and it was easily one of the best pasta dished I had ever eaten.  The locally made pasta is astonighingly light and expertly cooked that I immedietely knew that I would have to return to the restaurant and try more.  There was also a lightness of touch to the chilli that gave the dish a touch of bite, but without overpowering the rest of the falvours.  Catherine had chicken and lentils, telling me that the lentils with the chicken were perfect - really intensely tasty and earthy.

Accompanying this, we had the 2007 Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano, an excellent wine chosen for us by Freida. Another welcome feature of Trullo is that the wine has a maximum mark up of £10 a bottle - so if you stick at the higher end of the menu, you can get some cracking bargains.

We both finished up with panna cotta and grappa.  The restaurant came up trumps again, managing to get the perfect consistency of panna cotta - just on the verge of collapsing but without doing so.  Perfect.

In all, we had a fantastic time at Trullo. Getting as excellent a restaurant as this Islington is great for the area - getting it at the bottom of my road is great for me. We'll be returning regularly, taking as many people as we can and have been recommending it to everyone in the area as a must-go.

So that's unreserved praise from us for one of the best meals we've had this year.

Read our interview with the people behind Trullo.

Hot Dinners recommends

Test Drive