Trattoria Aquilino

Tel: +44 (0)20 7226 5454
Address: 31 Camden Passage, London N1
Cuisine Type: Italian
nearest tube station Angel (NORTHERN)

This restaurant has closed.

Hidden behind the trendy bars and overhyped restaurants of Islington’s Upper Street lurks Trattoria Aquilino. If past history is anything to go by it will easily outlast its flashier neighbours – it’s been there for 37 years, after all. The frontage is very modest. One square bay window, with panelling in vivid red and green – quite possibly a throwback to its birth in the 60s. The door is painted to match, which is the only clue that it is actually the entrance to the restaurant – it looks more like the doorway to a flat. This is definitely not a place that blows its own trumpet.

Tardis-like, the inside is larger than the outside, and very classic Italian trattoria style with check tablecloths and large pepperpots. The menu is classic too – a small choice of antipasti (including an excellent melanzane alla parmigiana) and a good range of pasta dishes including ravioli in a wickedly rich cream sauce. Meat and fish are offered in authentically simple sauces. My Vitello al Limone was perfection – thin fillets of wonderfully tender veal in a lemon, parsley and butter sauce – and a side dish of spinach was tender and sweet. Again, no big surprises with the dolci – but the zabaglione was fabulous. Prices are good, too – around £3 for starters, £5 for pasta and £5-£9 for main courses.

The lasting impression was of real (and friendly) people cooking real food with care and attention. The wine list finally sealed our approval – a Verdicchio at £10.95 was just too good to be true. We were forced to test a second bottle, and then take one home for further research. Here’s to the next 37 years…