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30 Almeida Street
0207 3544 4777
D&D London (Quaglino’s, German Gymnasium, Angler etc.) is capitalising on its star signing of Francesco Mazzei by persuading the Islington local to re-fashion Almeida as a neighbourhood Italian. Radici is a more down-to-earth proposition than the chef’s Sartoria, more trattoria than ristorante, albeit styled with the habitual D&D elan. With its eye-catching tiled floors and spindly wooden furniture, Radici looks like an interiors spread from a colour supplement, right down to the olive tree-fringed terrace which affords peerless people-watching of the comings and goings of the Almeida theatre opposite. Ingredients are fresh and seasonal – nibble on some sweet-as-can-be grilled peas while you peruse a menu inspired by Mazzei’s southern Italian childhood. Starters impressed the most: meatballs with a deliciously rich depth of flavour, and a soft curl of perfectly cooked octopus tentacle, crisped up at the tip and surrounded by equally well-timed cannellini beans. Pastas were pedestrian in comparison, and mains of mushroom ragu with polenta, and calf’s liver involtino – rolled into a cigar and stuffed with pancetta, garlic and sage – were both too salty to be enjoyable; order instead one of the excellent pizzas, buoyed up on pillowy dough puffed up from the wood-fired oven. The Italian wine list has lots of interest under £40, although staff need more training on the finer points (a request for a glass of sweet wine was met with a suggestion of bone-dry Tio Pepe). We’ve always been big fans of Mazzei and we’re sure he’ll iron any issues out – not least so he has somewhere to take the family for a feasting-style Sunday lunch.
30 Almeida Street
0207 3544 4777
Essex Road Station 538m
Highbury & Islington Station 643m
Almeida Theatre 47m
Little Angel Theatre 149m
Tues-Sat 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sat 5-10.30pm Sun 11.00am-6pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
Perception of restaurants is very much dependent on expectations. If the expectation of Radici is that it will be like L'Anima or Sartoria or that it will be fine dining or even that it will be the best quality high end ingredients, disappointment will be inevitable. Radici is none of these but that is not to say it is bad for what it is.
Radici aims to be a tratorria and it 'sort of' succeeds but not entirely.
If informal means noisy, it is certainly informal (to be honest I should have remembered that I stopped going to Francesco Mazzei's L'Anima because it was so noisy that conversation was impossible at peak times - he seems to like having hard echoing surfaces everywhere - as Jay Rayner recently said, there clearly are people who like restaurants like this, however, I am not one of them). The decor is also a bit of a mishmash with different styles of furniture and odd concentrations of tables in some areas with big gaps elsewhere. Perhaps this is designed to show its informality and allow for access to the small outside terrace when the weather improves, but this is only speculation and it could simply be bad design.
The menu is limited and has a parson's egg quality of being good in places. Some thought has been given to the dishes and there are unusual and often successful items. However, a number of dishes were let down by poor execution; over-cooked pasta, an item described as containing pancetta containing none, an over-purified sauce and some unappetising presentations). It seemed that the kitchen mayhave been overwhelmed based on the time taken for food to arrive after ordering and so perhaps this is something than can be expected to improve in time.
Prices are in line with other well-known informal Italian restaurants in the West End which is fine insofar as it goes but lower prices might be expected given the out of town location and the type of ingredients being used (think liver rather than beef or lamb, think salt cod rather than fresh seasonal fish, think lots of pizza).
The wine list lacked imagination. It is short (which can be a blessing) and entirely comprised of wines from the less fashionable regions of Italy (which is welcome as these can produce excellent wines at very reasonable prices). However, the list is dominated by mega producers whose wines can be found in most UK wine shops (a single producer accounts for 20% of the list) rather than unknown (in the UK), interesting, independent makers. Again the mark ups are in the typical West End range of 300-400% over retail plus VAT and so there are no bargains here. In fact, it was very disappointing to see the "no label" house wines which are sold only by the glass and carafe were more expensive on a volume basis than some of the "labeled" wines on the list. Surely a tratorria has to offer good value house wines.
Overall, and for me personally, this will never be a destination or a date restaurant but a place to grab a quick bite on the way to something but to be this it needs to improve the consistency of its cooking and offer better value for money on both food and wine.
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