Iconic Soho delicatessen Lina Stores have just launched their very own pasta restaurant and we were lucky to score an INTO App invite to the grand opening last Tuesday evening. Having been open for over 75 years, the original deli is widely recognised as one of the best, most authentic Italian joints in London city.
Visiting the brand new restaurant on Greek Street, Soho, the first thing we notice is a quintessential turquoise green colour painting the shop front, paralleling Lina Stores’ sleek branding. The striped awning and outside stool seating really adds to the look of a traditional Italian shop front, instantly setting the scene for an authentic experience to come. With the turquoise hue carried throughout the interior, we see the walls, plates and waitress’ aprons splashed with the same thematic, unifying colour. There’s nothing more we like to see than an aesthetic fit out, that’s for sure!
The opening celebrations began with a selection of delicious antipasti, as any traditional Italian feast really should. Our first dish was the Gorgonzola e Mostarda di Pere: a mouth-watering offering of Gorgonzola Extra Dolce, Pear and Mustard Fruit Chutney. The soft, creamy cheese offered a velvety texture, contrasting with the crunch of the salted crackers. The fruit chutney added a surge of richness, and the dish was altogether very more-ish… we ended up ordering three!
The Polpette di Melanzane was an antipasti fave for the table, combining Aubergine Polpette with a San Marzano Tomato sauce. Again, this dish was texturally satisfying, with the smooth melt-in-your-mouth interior pairing perfectly against the bread crumbed exterior – a consistency similar to that of arancini. Despite being a small-sized offering (canape style), the flavours were so rich and fulfilling that one or two would suffice.
Following the polpette, we were served the ‘Nduja con Ricotta: Spicy Calabrian ‘Nduja and Buffalo Ricotta. This one was coming in hot ‘n’ spicy, so it was perfect for lovers of the heat such as ourselves! The full-bodied flavour profile of the intense ‘Nduja dip worked well with the contrast of a light, refreshing ricotta cheese. A side of warm, dense bread completed the dish.
Now, let’s talk about the PASTA, because that’s really what we were all there for, right?! For those looking to try something a little on the lighter side, the Gnocchi con Piselli e Ricotta Salta went down a treat. This dish combined fresh peas and a salted ricotta for a healthier style.
We’re always going to order a seafood pasta when we get the chance, so we were delighted to see the Spaghetti alla Chitarra con Granchio, Peperoncino e Limone on the menu. Dorset crab was mixed among a delightfully al dente spaghetti, topped with a hint of chilli and zesty lemon. We particularly loved how well balanced this dish was; it had a good crab-to-pasta ratio, with a flavour profile that really managed to keep the potent fishy taste at bay. It is often that we find a seafood pasta too be too strong on the fishy odour, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, lacking enough seafood in comparison to pasta. Well done to Lina Stores for refining that balance!
However, out of all the pasta we tried (and perhaps all of the antipasti, too), the reigning winner was the Ravioli di Vitello, made up of veal stuffed ravioli, wild garlic and toasted breadcrumbs. The utter richness of this dish had us thinking truffle style, minus the actual truffle. The stuffed veal was dense, tender and of a pulled consistency. It paired perfectly with the al dente pasta exterior. A garlicy sauce added to the power of this dish and the final touch of crispy breadcrumbs made for the ultimate textural finish. All-in-all, we would definitely return to Lina Stores, if only to eat this Italian delicacy again!
We ended the night on desserts, devouring a Cannolo con Ricotta e Pistacchio dish and Torta al Cioccolato. Both of these sweets were absolutely divine, however we have to give it to the Cannoli for being perhaps one of the best cannoli we’ve ever eaten. I mean, we weren’t fans of cannoli to begin with due to a sickening sweet flavour we’ve become accustomed to with this dish. However, Lina Stores has seemingly converted us to cannoli fans as their version was a total step back from sickly sweet; in fact, it offered a more sophisticated style of sweet, accompanied by a richness that seemed, in a way, far less fatty-creamy. Alas, it was still super huge and too rich to finish alone, so we’d recommend sharing this with a partner or group of friends.
If you’d like to check out either of the Lina Stores, you can find both in Soho: the delicatessen is located 18 Brewer Street and the newly launched restaurant is located 51 Greek Street. Follow the link here to the Lina Stores website.