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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Angelina - Exquisite Italian-Japanese Cooking in East London

Name: Angelina

Where: 56 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AH, http://www.angelina.london/

Cost: £39 for 5-course tasting menu with an optional £35 Italian wine pairing, or £9 for the dish of the day with an optional £3 for a beer or glass of wine.

About: Few London restaurants have excited me as much as Italian-Japanese @Angelina.dalston - and glad to report that our experience there was nothing short of outstanding.

Owner and General Manager Joshua Owens-Baigler @joshuabaigler, a Japanophile at heart who lived in Umbria, trained at the River Café and cut his teeth with the Bistroteque Group,  Hix, and Bocca di Lupo. And this is where he met Roman Head Chef, Daniele Ceforo (former Café Murano and Enoteca Turi), now heading the kitchen at Angelina.

Joshua’s knowledge of Italian and Japanese ingredients is encyclopaedic, but better still is how he brings these two cuisines so beautifully together, nothing is forced or out of place, and every ingredient, be it moromi miso, extra virgin olive oil or fatty tuna, matters and complements his harmonious Italian-Japanese creations.

Angelina, a bright 40-cover restaurant, was designed by Jason's mother, an award winning interior designer and founder of Anna Owens Designs. Angelina is heavily inspired by Japanese minimalism and monochromatic aesthetic combined with high-quality Italian materials including a gorgeous Italian marble bar overlooking the open kitchen. 

We also loved the use of gorgeous green foliage scattered around the restaurant which brought freshness and warmth to the elegant decor.

What We Ate: We went for their 5-course tasting menu, a real steal at £39pp, opting for an additional cheese and miso course (£10 supplement).

The meal kicked off with a selection of 7 primi (small dishes), a mix of ‘Fritto Misto’ and ‘Crudo’ raw fish to share:

1. Deep-fried, Panko coated Taleggio cheese with pancetta and pickled cucumber served with tonkatsu sauce (made in-house):

2. Red snapper Carpaccio with truffle soy and furikaki seasoning:

3. Japanese Shishito peppers (akin to Padron Peppers) served ‘kushiage’ style (though no skewers), coated in Panko and deep fried - an Izakaya staple:

4. Vitelo Tonnato - a classic from Piedmont - thin slices of cooked veal in a rich tuna mayo - though at @angelina.dalston a katsuoboshi mayo (air dried bonito flakes used to make dashi stock) was used instead with great results:

5. Light as feather Cime di Rapa tempura:

6. Exquisite fatty toro (tuna belly sashimi) with moromi miso & extra virgin olive oil and crispy pancetta:

7. Sliced sourdough bread - top image in What We Ate section.

And then onto the pasta course - raviolo filled with soy marinated egg yolk, and served with oyster mushroom, baby yucca, nasturtium leaves and shavings of Perigord truffle in a light dashi of kombu and dried porcini - exquisite!

Secondo (main) was a delectable dish of red mullet and burnt soy butter served with Tema artichoke.

Cheese and miso platter included wakame (Japanese seaweed), aged tofu in moromi miso, and robiola piemonte cheese, Gorgonzola naturale, tastuno al Barolo, served with Sardinian Carasau bread (paper thin and crispy), and a glass of sweet Passito wine (Sagrentino Montefalco).

Dolci (dessert) of black sesame Castella cake, chocolate langues de chat, and an ultra-refreshing blood orange sorbet ended our meal in a high note.

If you don’t fancy a full-blown 5-course meal, the restaurant offers a daily changing plate (katsu curry on the day we were there) for £9, with the option of adding a glass of wine or beer for £3.

What We Drank: A fantastic Italian wine pairing for the 5-course tasting menu is available for £35. Though as we were there at lunchtime, we decided to play safe and had a glass of Zabibbo, Curatolo Arini 2018 from Sicily, a luscious, muscat-like wine with tropical fruit.

Likes: the toro with moromi miso and extra virgin olive oil was sensational, as was the red snapper carpaccio with truffle soy and furikake, and the deep fried taleggio! We loved the selection of Piemontese cheeses and aged tofu, I would recommend it for the £10 supplement. The optional £35 wine pairing is excellent value and features some unusual, niche Italian wines. We loved the Sicilian Zabbido wine (and grape), it was our first time trying it (similar to a Moscatel).

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: One of my favourite restaurants in London right now - there is so much to love about Angelina - harmonious, creative Italian-Japanese cooking with great quality ingredients, in a very beautiful setting and at £39, their 5-course tasting menu is also a real steal. I cannot wait to return! Very highly recommended.

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