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 https://www.squaremeal.co.uk/restaurants/sumosan-twiga_480 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.