Friday, 18 September 2009

Antonio's Ristorante review - the Italian pasta restaurant tucked in an alley at Angel Islington


Antonio+Ristorante+review+Angel+Islington+London+ChowSome say that Angel's Upper Street is one of the most happening street in Europe. I'm not sure how true that is but the fact is that the entire street is filled with restaurants of almost all major cuisines on Earth. If you were to dine in one of them for every week, it could very well take you a year before you pay a repeat visit.

In fact, the street is so crammed with restaurants that some had taken to opening up shop in alleys that run perpendicular to Upper Street. Antonio's Ristorante is one of them.

Antonio's Ristorante is one of those restaurant that is almost begging not to be found. If you search for its location using its postcode on its receipt (N1 1PQ - a typo), you'll end up a couple of streets away. The irony is that once you find it, chances are you'll ask yourself whether this is a mistake. Let's be frank here, dining in a shady looking place sitting beside a car workshop down a dark alley is not exactly your idea of a perfect evening, even if it comes with a fancy name such as Antonio's Ristorante.

Antonio+Ristorante+review+Angel+Islington+London+ChowBut before you start backing off back to Upper Street, let me assure you that it's not as bad as it seems. I suspect the staff over at Antonio's know that the odds are stacked against them and they more than make it up for it in the excellent level of service.

We were greeted warmly by the host and led swiftly to our table, which was right beside the kitchen. Even though we had made a reservation, it was a busy night for Antonio's Ristorante as there was a private party going on on the first floor.

Its interior décor looked more promising than its sorry surrounding. With rows of recycled wine bottles adorning its walls, Antonio's, with dimmed lighting (a tad too dim for my liking, and the main reason why no photos were taken of the food) provided a perfect setting for a quiet dinner.

Toptable offered us a promotion for two courses with a Bellini thrown in for £15 per person. And we got a goat cheese soufflé for starter, a spaghetti with giant prawns and a roast veal for mains, and a Belgium chocolate mousse for dessert.

After an encounter with the Swiss' cheese fondue, we were a bit hesitant to order any cheese based dishes but we both agree that the goat cheese soufflé was surprisingly light to the taste and before long, we were scrapping the plate clean.

The spaghetti (al dente) was done just nice. Accompanied by a grand total of two large prawns (with a handful of smaller shrimps), the dish didn't last long as well.

Antonio+Ristorante+review+Angel+Islington+London+Chow

We were, however, a bit disappointed with the veal. The two slices came caked with something that I could only described as disparate bread crumbs, which was rather bland. The dish also came with a slab of kische, some roasted mash potatoes and a small serving of carrot shavings seasoned in some sweet solution. The presentation was a bit awkward as it seemed to me that the chef was looking for something to fill the plate. But I must add that the kische went well with the carrots.

Even though the chocolate mousse tasted rather flat, the staff who served us made our day. She was attentive, efficient and always with a smile throughout the night. Though the food served at Antonio's is hardly to shout about, I would probably return knowing that the experience would most likely be a pleasant one.

Address: 134-137 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QP
Tel: 0207 226 8994
Nearest Tube station: Angel or Highbury & Islington

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge:N/A

Taste: **
Service: ****
Ambience: **
Suitable for: a quiet dinner for two, just ignore the car workshop beside it.
Antonio's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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