Over the next month or so I’m planning to hit the “big 3”* of Italian restaurants in London. The king of London is still the River Cafe but there two new pretenders to the throne in the shape of Zucca and Trullo. I visited the latter of these a couple of weeks ago, the first on my grand tour, and I was excited. Reviews of Trullo have been very good since it opened its doors over a year ago. Jordan Frieda, formerly front of house at the aforementioned River Cafe, has set up a lovely little restaurant a stone’s throw from Highbury station that is a little homage to his former place of work. The set up is simple and thoughtful; around 25 covers scattered around a bar and open kitchen with a simple menu of 4/5 starters, 3 pastas and 3 mains which change daily.
We were a party of 5 and pretty hungry on a busy Friday night so we basically ordered everything off the menu and settled down to a very well priced and delicious bottle of prosecco. First things to come out the door were some delicious figs with melted gorgonzola dripping from them, a lovely mixture of sweet and rich and very moreish. Alongside this were some mussels with hispi cabbage that were very light and fresh and were wolfed down. The grilled ox heart were a big hit with everyone round the table but the peppers with salted sea bass didn’t really work, lacking any defining flavour and texture.
All of this was very nice but paled in comparison to the following course of pasta. Any Italian restaurant worth its salt should be judged on its pasta, something that can be so simple but requires a deft touch. Trullo sailed through with flying colours, the star of the show being the beef shin ragu that I’d read so much about. It was truly amazing, Trullo is worth a visit for this alone and at £7.50, it is an absolute bargain. I had one mouthful and ordered another plate straight away. Other notables were a deliciously simple linguine with Monte Veronese and a tagliatelle with Scottish girolles (a type of mushroom) but the beef shin ragu really is da bomb.
Onto the mains and we all went for a selection of fish. I had grilled mackerel with panzanella that was delicious. The mackerel’s skin had a lovely, smoky, charred flavour to it and the panzanella was a revelation of thick bread and juicy tomatoes. I haven’t had it in ages and had forgotten how much I liked it. The others went for the plaice that was soft and buttery and came with a fennel and herb salad that complimented it well, another winner.
We finished up with a well earned espresso and panna cotta. Considering we basically ordered the entire menu (and the ragu twice) and went through 4 bottles of delicious wine, the bill still came only came to £55 a head which is quite amazing value I think. If I lived a little closer to Trullo I’d be there every week, sadly I don’t but I know I’ll be back soon. I’m interested to see what River Cafe has to offer with a much bigger price tag attached.