Gone are the days when pasta on the menu meant a choice between carbonara or spaghetti Bolognese. In recent years London has seen an explosion of eateries dedicated solely to the comforting carbohydrate. In Italy, strict rules dictate which shape may be served with which sauce, but this new rebellion has seen Italian natives themselves ripping up the rulebook to produce dishes based purely on seasonality, creativity and flavour.
Officina 00’s Neapolitan co-owners Elia Sebregondi and Enzo Mirto have drawn inspiration from their respective heritage in Asian restaurants (Kiln and Roka) to create a menu of plates designed for sharing – a concept which would furrow the brow of an Italian purist.
However, something which remains without compromise is their artisanal approach to the pasta itself. ‘Officina’ means ‘workshop’ and the ‘00’ refers to the finest grade of flour they use for creating the myriad shapes and sizes that are handcrafted at a dedicated work bench in the restaurant.
In the adjacent open kitchen, counter-top seating enables diners to watch the small team of chefs at work cooking and plating each indulgent dish with passion and precision. We started with some ‘snacks’ – fried ravioli and aubergine croquettes. The former are small crunchy bites filled with the distinct flavours of cacio e pepe and the latter moist and moreish, packed with ricotta and a subtle hint of nduja. Perfectly cooked morsels of hake in a lightly seasoned batter arrived with an aesthetically pleasing ink and lemon mayo for dunking.
The highlight of the show is, as you would expect, the pasta. After much deliberation over a concise but tantalising menu we opted for ink tagliolini with mussels, anchovies and chilli, and occhi – flying saucer shaped parcels filled with braised oxtail, caramelised onion and drizzled with a cavalo nero pesto and meaty jus.
The affordable wine list is equally well thought out, and we loved the original descriptions beneath each Italian label. The staff, too, were a joy – attentive but not overly so, presenting each dish with an endearing sense of pride. The interiors are suitably Shoreditch in their style with the obligatory trailing foliage, wooden tables and exposed brickwork and ducting. Bottle-green tiling and velvet drapes lend the space a warm and cosy ambience in spite of its industrial aesthetic.
Serving quick and delicious comfort food at affordable prices just a stone’s throw from Old Street Station, it’s no wonder Officina 00 is already drawing a buzzy crowd of regulars through its doors to try the weekly changing menus. Finish with Enzo’s favourite tiramisu or the cannoli piped with sweet ricotta and pistachio and we guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.