Lina Stores Restaurant & Deli, Soho
Our first piece of advice about Lina Stores is to book ahead. Before walking inside we overheard the manager explain to two hopeful diners they’d have to wait 45 minutes for seats (and hearing them eagerly accept), giving the impression this was going to be a dining experience worth waiting for (which turned out to be true). The restaurant is split in two, the downstairs a dimly lit space where friends come together to share pasta plates and couples come to indulge before waddling home from the heart of Soho. The upper level is packed without being uncomfortable, cosy and intimate. If you’re lucky nab the best seat in the house: on the bar right in front of the chefs.
Lina Stores offers the perfect blend of Italian and English luxury, not overdone or pretentious – the warmth of the manager makes you feel part of the family rather than just an in-and-out diner. The menu works best for sharing dishes, with two antipastis and two or three mains recommended. Start with the Aubergine Polpette & San Marzano Tomato dish, essentially a meatball stuffed with sliced aubergine instead of meat. Also the Stracciatella, Ferrandina Baked Olives, Caperberries & Crostini mopped up with a few slices of bread (listen to the waiters when they tell you to ‘never say to no bread at an Italian restaurant’). For mains, be sure to order the Double Ravioli, Minted Courgette & Parmesan Cream. The whole meal, paired with a few glasses of Italian rosé, is a taste sensation. Visit once, and you’ll be hooked.
The Lina Stores Delicatessen on Brewer Street – where the fresh pasta served in the restaurant is created – is also well worth a visit. What began as a deli for the local Italians soon grew to be known by all the pasta-lovers of London, selling authentic Italian pasta, meats, cheeses, chutneys and our favourite: White Truffle Honey.
TRY: The Agnolotti Verdi, Black Truffle & Ricotta: the restaurant’s most famous and sought-after dish. Prior to trying, the manager explained we’d be dreaming about it long after the visit. It’s the day after, and we can confirm this theory. By Kerri Stolerman
Lina Stores Restaurant: 51 Greek St Soho, London W1D 4EH and Lina Stores Deli: 18 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SH; linastores.co.uk