Soho stalwart, Lina Stores, really needs no introduction. The deli’s minty-green exteriors have been a cornerstone of the neighbourhood for close to 75 years, a long-standing purveyor of the highest-grade Italian ingredients. Their recently-opened restaurant on nearby Greek Street has all the makings of a classic too…
It’s a wonderfully welcoming spot, softly clad in the brand’s iconic mint hue and with plenty of #AccidentallyWesAnderson touches (don’t miss the symmetrical line-up of Campari bottles by the bar!).
There’s table seating in the basement; while it’s all about counter dining on the ground floor. Watching head chef Masha Rener at work here, is as joyful as the plates of handmade pasta she adeptly hands over herself!
Lina Stores’ classics feature on the menu, with the deli’s fabulous produce manifesting in a seriously special selection of antipasti. Just a dollop of fresh San Marzano tomato sauce is enough to elevate deep-fried aubergine polpette to craveable proportions!
Rener’s Umbrian heritage also translates into a love letter to lesser-known regional specialities. The ricotta and herb gnudi is rather revelatory – made with ricotta, spinach and breadcrumbs, this pillowy alternative to gnocchi is served swimming in a pool of melted brown butter and sage. Also unmissable for vegetarians, is the courgette and mint tortellini – the little parcels of pasta revealing ribbons of courgette blissfully sopped up by a cherry tomato sauce.
Truth be told, you can and should go hungry – ready to try everything on the incredibly well-priced menu. All plates of pasta range from £6 to just £10 (a far cry from the excessive £24 tag accompanying a simple Cacio e Pepe in nearby Mayfair!).
Just be sure to save room for something sweet after. Instagram will no doubt be extolling the virtues of the cannoli or lemon sorbet (served over a shot of limoncello), but if I had to recommend just the one dessert – it would undoubtedly be the dark chocolate tart.
Our waiter sells it to us as the best chocolate tart we could ever hope to eat. A tall order to say the least.
It’s as decadently rich as promised, but with a subtle lightness from a soft, dewy texture. A scoop of impossibly fresh whipped cream is the ideal accompaniment, complimenting but not overwhelming this picture of sheer bliss… So does it live up? Molto bene!
Lina Stores, 18 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SH | https://www.linastores.co.uk/restaurant/
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