What happens on the first mildly hot day of the year? In Islington, men cycle round with their shirts undone lapping up that balmy 16°C heat and I search for a breezy open restaurant to pretend that I’m actually by the Mediterranean. Just opened on Upper Street, Terra Rossa is a new Puglian inspired space that provides just that.
Meaning ‘red earth’ in Italian, Terra Rossa is inspired by the heel of the country and brings a slice of Puglia with simple interiors. Unfolding doors are pulled all the way back to allow in the spring sunshine on the night we visit, while the back is just as breathable, with overhead skylights and white washed walls reminiscent of Puglia’s famous bee-hive shaped houses: ‘trulli’. While it only opened recently, the restaurant already feels like a piece of the neighbourhood, channeling a Southern Italian trattoria, with white-shirted waiters tootling behind the bar and simple wooden tables that work just as well for a date as for a messy family Sunday lunch.
Food leans towards the traditional ‘cucina povera’ - literally translated as ‘poor kitchen’ - think pizza, pastas and vegetable dishes. My favourite melanzane parmigiana (£8.90) comes piping hot in a little kiln bowl, a gloriously rich slop of tomatoes, aubergines and parmesan. Mains are simple but satisfying - gnochetti e vongole is a salty mix of al dente cubes with an abundance of delicate and fleshy clams. Wash it all down with one of their very affordable bottles of wine - we opted for a pink Sicilian bottle that came in under £20 and was perfect for the first taste of summer happening outside.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Upper Street is running a foodie revolution at the moment, but there’s still room for crowd-pleasing and homely spots such as Terra Rossa. Charming, affordable and laid-back, the restaurant is an authentic taste of Italy’s hottest region - grab a window seat and a bottle of rose and forget you’re in London for the evening.