Opened in 1944, legendary Soho deli Lina Stores has managed to survive the sky-high rents and glossy redevelopments that have claimed so many of the area’s Italian old-timers. Now, it has produced a bambino: a “truly authentic” 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, head to the basement, where the tables are packed tuna-can tight and chatting is easier. Either way, fans reckon that “the passion of the staff is contagious”.
To start, we were won over by some lusciously fatty strips of slow-roasted pork belly sandwiched between slices of crisp ciabatta, and also by the meat-free aubergine polpette with San Marzano tomatoes. Also check out the arancini involving black trompette mushrooms, Taleggio and Gorgonzola.
However, it’s all about the main event: readers say that Lina’s is “pasta heaven at incredible prices” and we’ve also been impressed: gamey veal ravioli features tender chunks of meat wrapped in delicate parcels with a smattering of breadcrumbs providing some added crunch, while sticky green gnudi also makes for a heavenly plateful, the smooth ricotta and herb filling melting on the tongue.
In comparison, we were underwhelmed by an overcooked, dry slice of Amarena cherry and almond tart offered for dessert. Much better was a zesty Blood Orange Bellini. Our advice? Skip pud and order another plate of pasta (plus a cocktail) – your dough will be well spent at Lina’s.