Fusing Japanese and Italian cuisine may sound like an intriguing feat, but when the opening of a new east London restaurant was announced, it was the bar's no-phone rule that really caught my attention. How would I document my entire culinary adventure? But being a sucker for anything Asian, I couldn’t resist. So when Angelina opened just minutes from two of my favourite bars (Three Sheets and Untitled, I’m looking at you), we just had to check it out.
In the company of Dalston’s laid-back bars, chilled out restaurants and hipster hideaways, we weren’t expecting to find such a beautiful spot. Huge ceiling-to-floor windows gave us a sneak peek of the candlelit space; featuring walls adorned with leafy trees and lanterns floating above an open kitchen. Dreamy. There’s even a tiny hidden bar, inspired by Tokyo’s infamous Golden Gai; it's where old school Nikka meets the modern Italicus.
Kicking off the 5-course menu (£38 per person), we were bombarded with a stunning selection of starters created by co-owner and chef Daniele Ceforo. From unagi risotto-packed tempura balls to dainty morsels of venison tartare perfectly matched with focaccia chips and wagyu crudo spiked with venison and blood orange, the flavours packed a real punch. The wine pairing (£35) was just as apt, with co-owner and sommelier Joshua Owens-Baigler (ex-River Café) providing a subdued Lagrein Riserva Amberg DOCG to wash it all down.
Subsequent dishes were just as beautifully cooked but didn’t quite live up to the delicate yet show-stopping start. Nuggets of gnocchi topped with duck lotus were a little too mince meat-y, while Nashi pear and hazelnut tart with wasabi cream was tasty but slightly overcooked and could have done with a proper wasabi kick. The real gem was the final wine; a Merlino packed with brandy, wine and sugar, for the ultimate port-like treat.
The DesignMyNight Digest
When it comes to gorgeous restaurants in Dalston, I don’t think I’ve seen one as inviting as Angelina. (So good, I may have slipped in a cheeky Insta story.) The perfect date night/family meal/any excuse-kinda place, dinner here is sure to impress. While the mains didn’t wow us quite as much as the starters, the wines surely made up for it. Plus, there’s some of the best east London bars in walking distance… if you’ve got the room for a drink.