The hottest joint in Dalston just happens to serve excellent food – Angelina.
There’s something charming about naming a restaurant after one of your Dad’s favourite songs. That’s just what owner Joshua Owens-Baigler (ex River Cafe and Artusi) chose to do when he opened Angelina Restaurant in Dalston with chefs Robin Beparry and Daniele Ceforo who between them have worked at Bevis Marks, Bocca di Lupo, Cafe Murano and Zoilo.
With a kitchen management line up that reflects some of the best of London food trends, I’m curious to find out more about the Italian/Japanese menu that is promised. With a set menu at £39 for five plates and a drinks pairings at £35, this is affordable dining out. The Daily Plate is £9 with a glass of wine or beer for £3. And, the menu really does change every day.
We sat up at the counter where we had the perfect view of everything being prepared for service. Not to be advised if you are hungry though, sitting right next to the pass it was hard to avoid temptation as various delicious-looking dishes were lined up for other people.
Our own meal started with a tiny dish of baby carrots liberally doused with grated Parmesan, black sesame seeds and honey and red wine vinegar reduction. I loved the umami-rich flavour combination and will try my best to make a ‘home’ version of the dressing to try on carrots.
Next up, two plates of fritto misto and more. A crisp light tempura batter encased the kale leaves. Mine came with the addition of lamb sweetbreads and a ham and ricotta doughnut. While the sweetbreads were perfectly cooked encased in panko breadcrumbs and the doughnut was delicious in its own right, I am not convinced the combination was the best – it was almost too much. Perhaps that was simply the fact that my pescatarian companion was perfectly sated by a full plate of fritto misto without the carnivorous additions.
The next offering, a delicate plate of sea bream sashimi served with a dressing of Capezzana olive oil, soy sauce and yuzu was perfection for me. My companion was unduly excited to have his own gastronomic taste affirmed. We’d visited the Capezzana winery in Tuscany and seen their traditional olive oil production.
The miniature plate of mackerel, carrot, sesame and Parmesan with lemon balm was the kind of dish I’d eat by the plateful. But, there’s an art to leaving your customers wanting more without letting them go hungry – and Angelina has that down to a tee.
We enjoyed a wine from the Dolomites with the first few dishes. Pojer Sandri, Nosiola, Trentino, 2016 is made with the nosiola grape often used for grappa or sweet wines. Minerally and fresh we thought it was an excellent choice which paired particularly well with the bream.
My companion’s favourite dish was the bucatini – a full-bodied plate of food with black garlic, burrata, Sancho Japanese pepper, anchovies and capers. Apart from top-quality ingredients the careful preparation of house-made pasta ensured we had a perfectly al-dente bowl to enjoy.
Our wine pairing was a rosé pinot grigio Ramato from Specogna, Friuli – Venezia Giulia, 2017. 8 days maceration on the skin provided a light pink colour to this honeysuckle, floral wine.
At this point, the pescatarian Hedonist and I parted company. I did love my beef short rib with chocolate sauce, kohlrabi purée and cucumber. The meat was tender and intensely flavoured pimped up by the chocolate and the kohlrabi provided the perfect calming complement to this mouthful of deliciousness. With my meat fest, I enjoyed a glass of Taurasi, Vesevo, Aglianico, Campania 2014 from Southern Campania which spends 2 months in oak and 3 years in bottle to produce a blackberry and plum mouthful, full of tannins and a great match for the hearty beef.
Meanwhile, my companion was feasting on the vegetarian option, a patty-pan squash with turnip, ricotta and chilli. He felt it was a little undercooked though a satisfying cheesy and spicy dish which paired nicely with his pinot noir like wine from Alto Adige, a biodynamic and organic low tannin, high fruit mouthful from Der Keil, Manincor, Schiava.
After all that, I scarcely remember the plateful of dessert, polenta with namelaka shiso gelato and chocolate mousse. A crisp Polenta bread complemented the soft chocolate mousse refreshing yet creamy gelato
The sweet Brachetto D’Acqui, wine, Contero, Brachetto, 2017 from Piedmont was full of raspberries and a delicious end to our meal.
We did head off into the tiny but perfectly formed cocktail bar to end the evening but in keeping with the spirit of the place are not posting photos. It’s one of those secrets you just need to explore for yourself, before or after your meal at Angelina Restaurant.
56 Dalston Lane,
London E8 3AH