Angelina’s shtick of blending Japanese and Italian cuisine might seem like a novel one, but it’s been tried before – in 2003, Shumi in St James’s served ‘Italian sushi’ (and was widely mocked for its efforts) while in 2016 high-end Japanese Sumosan moved from Mayfair to Knightsbridge, rebranding as Sumosan Twiga and introducing alternative menus of Japanese and Italian dishes.
Here in Dalston, Angelina takes things one step further, combining elements from both culinary traditions in the same dish from a weekly changing five-plate sharing menu. The combination of cuisines is gentler than anticipated – we found what we ate was mostly Italian food with welcome notes of Japanese influence.
Take the fritto misto/tempura, which involves cime di rapa coated in a crisp and lacy batter and served with a sweet soy sauce for dipping. Elsewhere, tomato linguine is pepped up with shavings of wasabi, while dense discs of braised pork are deep-fried and coated in breadcrumbs and served with a sweet-and-sour sauce. To finish, there’s an exemplary take on a rice pudding – a creamy concoction studded with chunks of tart blood orange, pellets of pistachio and finished off with chocolate shavings.
It’s a chic and minimalist space, featuring streaked marble tables, hanging Chinese lanterns and an open kitchen complete with counter seating. Another ace up Angelina’s sleeve is its tiny in-house cocktail bar Golden Gai, which has just six seats and operates a strict no-phones policy.
Quirky and cutting-edge without feeling gimmicky, Angelina is a welcome and well-considered addition to Dalston’s burgeoning restaurant scene.