‘All traditions were new once’ reads a sign on the wall at Macaroni Liberation Front, and it’s a fittingly irreverent motto for this quirky pasta joint. With its silly name, ‘make lasagne, not war’ posters and vegan riffs on classic pasta dishes, this is not the place for Italian food purists. Nevertheless, if you’re open to experimentation, the MLF should win you over with its intriguing menu and fun atmosphere.
The industrial-chic restaurant (communal tables, partially open kitchen) is run by a charming husband and wife team, manager Maia and chef Davide. They (or one of their friendly team) will talk you through the all-day menu which, while featuring meat-based dishes, is heavily slanted towards veganism. The vegan carbonara, for instance, swaps out milk and egg for cashew nuts and white miso to create a satisfying alternative to the creaminess of a carbonara proper. It’s finished off with crunchy fried tofu ‘bacon’, which is spiced with garlic and paprika to successfully ape the smoky flavour of rashers.
From the non-vegan side of things, a scallop mac ‘n’ cheese is a novel take on everyone’s favourite comfort dish, with the plump shellfish complimenting the indulgent stickiness of the cheese sauce. Come dessert, there’s a sinfully rich vegan chocolate fondant, while drinks range from beers and wine to fresh juices and coffee infused with CBD oil (we are in Dalston, after all).
Macaroni Liberation Front won’t be to everyone’s taste, but its infectious sense of fun – the lampshades made from upside-down colanders, there's a banging soundtrack and the staff are truly lovely – is enough to make open-minded east Londoners embrace some new traditions.