You have to have something about you to be really successful in Brixton Village these days, such is the level of competition. From our spot out front at La Nonna, we can practically see Sarap Baon. Salon is just around the corner. Temaki is a few doors down. And that’s before you get to all the sights and sounds of Brixton Village Market and Pop Brixton. This is the lion’s den, but the packed tables at La Nonna suggest this neighbourhood trattoria has some staying power.
The interior is clean, minimal and easy on the eye. Wooden tables, some greenery dotted around the room, a smattering of rattan bar stools for those who like getting up close and personal with the kitchen. It’s restaurant design 101 but it’s cosy and charming. And frankly, it doesn’t matter much when the food starts coming out.
Head chef Daniele hails from Rome, so the menu takes a distinct Roman tack. We dove straight into a bowl of smoked stracciatella (the cheese curds from inside a burrata), scooping it liberally onto crisp shards of Sardinian music paper bread. It’s the essence of Italian cuisine - just two ingredients, but completely entrancing.
Everything that follows is equally fantastic. Meatballs in tomato sauce are bold and robust, but the tomato still has that edge of acidity and bitterness that gives it real depth. Aubergine parmigiana and Roman-style arancini are well executed and delicious, not a mess of melted cheese and oil as they sometimes can be.
Starters are all fine and dandy, but when your restaurant is called La Nonna Pasta Fresca, the pasta fresca had better be good. A Roman restaurant lives and dies on its carbonara, and this one is an absolute winner, with smooth, luscious sauce coating every strand of delicate pasta. The wild mushroom and truffle tagliatelle will likely be overlooked in favour of fan favourites, but take it from us, it’s magical.
Also, a special mention for the service which is deserving of it’s own paragraph - friendly, helpful, and always perfectly-timed. La Nonna is the sort of neighbourhood pasta restaurant that will have you considering a move to South London if you don't already call it home.