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51 Greek Street
Opened in 1944, Soho’s Lina Stores delicatessen has managed to survive the sky-high rents and glossy redevelopments that have claimed all too many of the area’s Italian old-timers. Now, it has produced a bambino: a debut pasta restaurant just a few minutes’ walk away on Greek Street. Here, the exterior proudly displays Lina’s signature green-and-white colour scheme, which is continued inside the tiny space. Try to bag a seat at the counter and watch the chefs at work; all pasta is made on site daily. Alternatively, if you’re hoping for a chat, head to the basement – don’t discuss anything confidential, mind, as tables are packed tuna-can tight.
Charming, attractive staff explain the menu of sharing antipasti and pasta dishes. We were impressed by the lusciously fatty strips of pork belly sandwiched between slices of crisp ciabatta, and also by a vegetarian take on meatballs that came stuffed with silky aubergine and tomato. The stars of the show, though, are the comforting plates of pasta. Don’t miss the gamey veal ravioli: tender chunks of veal wrapped in delicate pasta parcels, given crunch with a smattering of breadcrumbs. A plate of sticky green gnudi was also heavenly, the smooth ricotta and herb filling melting on the tongue. In comparison, dessert disappointed: an overcooked, dry slice of cherry and almond tart. Much better was a zesty cocktail of Blood Orange Bellini. Our advice? Skip dessert and order another plate of pasta – your dough will be well spent on Lina’s.
SquareMeal 2 Stars
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51 Greek Street
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 188m
Leicester Square Tube Station 350m
Prince Edward Theatre 54m
Old Compton Street 101m
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
The menu tells you much of what you need to know. Not a huge amount of choice - its basically a framework for Lina's pasta. So rustic, and none the worse for that, but don't go expecting a gourmet experience. The pasta dishes are what they describe as "pasta size" relating back to the Italian habit of serving pasta as a kind of large starter rather than a main course. So here's the thing; for most people I suspect they'll need a starter ('nduja is great; prosciutto decent) and probably 3 pastas between 2 as your main- more if you're ravenous. Now the pastas may not be huge, but they are certainly cooked nicely and very tasty.
So the food's good. Now then, the place. Its not large and all the seating except bar stools is in the basement. The place was busy at lunch. It is frankly cramped and as a function of acoustics its a very loud experience, and quiet conversation with your dining companion pretty much out of the question; this could be the worst first-date restaurant anywhere! And there's nowhere to put backpacks of which there were quite a few, and things get in the way. Frankly the food is worth a better environment than this.
And especially so view of the fact that it's good value. Our 2 starters, three pastas, two glasses of decent house wine , a cocktail, and service came to £63. clearly I can speak only for us, but we'd be more than happy to pay another 15% for a bit more space and the ability to sustain a conversation!
Service is decent, friendly, explains the concept of the place nicely. And its not too brisk; pace about right. We enjoyed it, & we'll go again, even if we have to remember the ear defenders!
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