Islington, London

Sat snug behind the folds of Trullo’s half-curtained windows, it’s easy to ignore the rainswept Islington streets outside. Dreams of sun-kissed Roman plazzas and Renaissance-era rural idylls lie within. Sepia-toned oil paintings and heavily worn floorboards add to an ambience that invites daydreams of paint-splattered masters and their muses sitting down for an evening feast. It’s been ten years since Tim Siadatan snapped on the tablecloth clips and started service at Trullo, but like the dragging clocks hung in Tuscan trattorias, a decade has run slow at this London institution. The stripped-back interiors and soundtrack of contented diners in no rush to vacate tables remain. Silver-haired diners might wistfully recall past delights of £4 pasta plates, but inflation aside, Siadatan’s years of fine-tweaking the menu have turned Trullo into the capital’s gastronomic Gioconda.

When we arrive for our Tuesday-night sitting, the tablecloth quickly vanishes under platefuls of antipasti until our cosy corner takes on the look of da Vinci’s Last Supper table. Rosso vermouth aperitivi accompany slivers of pink monkfish carpaccio, dancing with olive oil, blood orange and wild fennel. Butter-soft braised cuttlefish arrives atop bruschetta, brushed with black squid ink. Via Romas switched for a voluptuous merlot, a similarly gutsy primo appears: ribbons of pappardelle enveloped in beef shin ragù. Trullo’s buzzy little sisters, both called Padella, have attempted to emulate this dish, but the original is gentler – a Mona Lisa to the more jubilant style of flavours they offer. Brushstrokes of Siadatan’s mentors linger: the teachings of Fergus Henderson lend a rigorous attention to quality and a stark simplicity in presentation, while earthy tones from Jamie Oliver’s Italian obsession provide Trullo’s paint palette. A pork chop comes with Castelluccio lentils, invigorated by salsa verde. My plump cod fillet sits on a mound of borlotti beans, slick with rosemary and anchovy oil. And then arrives Italy’s true triumph – dessert: fuchsia tongues of poached rhubarb over ivory meringue and a mighty wedge of glorious tiramisu, thick, biscuit-coloured cream rolling over a layer of coffee-spiked sponge like the flowing locks of Botticelli’s Venus herself. It’s a masterpiece.

Words by Lucy Kehoe.

This review was taken from the May 2020 issue of Food and Travel.

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