Housed in a Victorian transit shed behind Granary Square, this new branch of one of Soho’s oldest Italian delicatessens – 75 years and counting – boasts both deli and restaurant under one roof.
The shop is stocked with charming pantry essentials – on our festive visit panettone boxes hung decoratively from the ceiling – while the dining room matches the theatre of an open kitchen with cosy banquettes and intimate, rather close-quarters tables-for-two. 1940s-style globe lighting, we learn in the blurb, mimics that of the original store.
First things first: don’t expect the menu to be as cutting edge as, say, nearby Arabica, or anywhere, in fact, in Coal Drops Yard (hello, Hicce): this is trad fare with a focus on – what else? – fresh pasta.
As well a decent wine list, there’s an aperitivo bar: the evergreen joys of negronis aside, try an amaro sour, a decent glug of vodka paired with Morello cherry, egg white and the bitter orange of the digestif amaro ciociaro.
Forget December and bask in blue-sky June: this take on the Piedmontese dish vitello tonnato (cold sliced veal with a cold tuna sauce) sees wisps of ruby-red tuna carpaccio adorned with baby gherkins, capers, an anchovy mayo-style dressing and tangy salsa verde. A summery starter to enjoy with ice-cold Gavi di Gavi.
Ravioli di Zucca
Pasta has been “handmade every day since 1944”, says the menu; so make sure you order at least a couple of plates. They’re all small, well-priced (£6-£14) and, at a mouthful or two each, made for sharing. This classic vegetarian ravioli is almost dessert-like with its sweet, oozingly bright pumpkin filling, while hazelnuts offer up crunch, sage leaves a note of pine and buttery melted parmigiano a decent thwack of umami.
Rondini con Granchio e Capesante
We actually prefer our second pasta dish (main image, top), delicate parcels of crab and scallop in a loose sauce of prawn with confit cherry tomato, plus a sprinkling of herbs. It’s a conscious coupling of light, savoury flavours.
Gamberoni alla Griglia
A simple Mediterranean plate of grilled prawns is sometimes disappointing, especially if the critters themselves are on the mean side. But our plump juicy torsos, shells pleasingly blackened, come away from their heads with a mere prod of the fork, burnt lemon adding just a note of acidity to offset the rich white meat.
Cavolo Arrosto e Pinoli
Some learning: sides are as good here as the other dishes, so don’t overlook the Contorni section. Cime di rapa – or turnip tops – come breezily awakened with chilli and garlic, but our top tip is the charred cabbage, burnt and sticky at the edges, with pine nuts and brush strokes of punchy chilli sauce. Delicious – and, yes, rather seasonal. A little reminder, then, that it’s still winter after all.
Main image: PR
Gasholder ate as guests of Lina Stores. For more on our food reviews policy see here