‘I wouldn’t open that present here’, said The Boyfriend as we sat down for my birthday dinner at Trullo, an Italian in Highbury & Islington that I’d been dying to go to for ages. Like a red rag to a bull, I looked down at the oblong package and, after dismissing lingerie, tore it open. Well, he was right – it wasn’t appropriate to brandish a 12inch kitchen knife in the middle of a restaurant so, after a gasp, I quickly moved it from view.
You might think a kitchen knife is a strange present to get from The Boyfriend. However, he knows me well and, if I’m ever going to learn to cook like Tim Siadatan (Head Chef of Trullo), I need to discard my cheap IKEA knives and use a more professional implement.
With Tim’s background – he graduated from Jamie’s Fifteen school before working at St John and Moro – Trullo was always going to be a winner. So, it came as no surprise to find a restaurant already buzzing with satisfied customers when we arrived at 7pm on Friday night.
We decided to kick off with a couple of cocktails – a Negroni for The Boyfriend and a Rhubarb Bellini for me. This, coupled with homemade bread and quality olive oil, got us in the mood for food, so we started looking at the mouthwatering menu.
The menu changes regularly to reflect the produce available each season. Split into Antipasti, Primi, Oven, Charcoal Grill, Dessert and Cheese, we weren’t entirely sure how much we should order, but luckily our friendly waiter explained we could go as ‘big’ or ‘small’ as we wanted. So, naturally, we decided to go the whole hog.
Starting with Antipasti, Mozzarella di bufala with smashed broad beans and petrolo estate olive oil was the obvious choice after seeing it served at the table next to us. The cheese was torn across the plate in a way that can only be achieved with the best quality Mozzarella. Also, the interesting pairing of broad beans with a hint of mint was exciting, tasty and definitely something I’d try to replicate at home.
We both chose pasta for Primi, mainly because it’s freshly made on site and rolled just a few minutes before it’s served. The Boyfriend’s Pappardelle with Beef Shin Ragu was rich, sweet and had the perfect ratio of pasta to sauce to ensure each element wasn’t drowned by the other.
I went for the Fazzoletti with marjoram, Amalfi lemon and black pepper, which was a first for me as I’d never eaten a ‘pasta handkerchief’ before. What I loved about this dish was the simplicity – the wonderful flavour of the pasta was delicately complimented by the lemony, buttery, lightly seasoned sauce.
For main, we both chose from the Oven section, with The Boyfriend opting for Slow-cooked Barbary Duck Leg, served with fregola, spring carrots and rocket. Even though it wasn’t the most inventive dish, it couldn’t be faulted as the tender meat fell easily from the bone, ready to be scooped up with the fresh tasting fregola and peppery rocket.
Being a fish lover, I unsurprisingly chose Lemon sole with cannelloni beans. The big fish was lightly fried and served with a chilli dressing that added extra punch to a dish that might have otherwise been quite plain. Saying that, the sole had a lovely subtle flavour that reaffirmed why I really am a closet pescatarian.
Stuffed, we still ordered pudding – a sweetly simple Caramel Pannacotta that melted in our mouths until the last creamy bite. By this stage, cheese was not an option, so we finished our wine, paid the bill and headed home, stopping for a cheeky cocktail on the way.
When I next visit Trullo I’ll be tempted to just order plates from the Antipasti and Primi sections as these courses really stood out for me. That said, I’m happy to say that the food was some of the best I’ve had in London and, although it comes at a price (you’re looking at about £50 a head with wine), it makes a great dinner destination on a special occasion.
And so, Trullo gets a LLE Rating of 9/10. I look forward to the day they release a cookbook so I too can cook like Tim, using my new knife of course.
Trullo, 300 – 302 St Paul’s Road, London, N1 2LH