Trullo serves simple Italian food in premises at the less smart end of Islington, in the resolutely unappealing St Pauls Road. The dining room has dark wood floor, small low chairs and paper tablecloths, with music (quite a mix including Elvis) playing in the background, though at moderate volume. There was an additional bar and dining area downstairs. Some tables in the upstairs room looked into the small kitchen, and there was an additional prep kitchen downstairs. The chef, Tim Siadatan, has worked at Moro and the River Café. Starters were priced at £7 - £9, main courses £14 to £17, with vegetable side dishes extra at £4 each and desserts £3.50 - £5.
The two page Italian wine list started at £20 and had lengthy notes on each wine. It had selections such as Donnafugata Sherazade 2009 at £27 for a wine that costs £9 retail, Fossacolle Rosso di Montalcino 2008 at £43 for a wine that shops charge £17 for, with some unusual wines such as Franz Haas Manna 2008 at £49 for a wine that will set you back £20 to buy. We drank Marchesi di Gresy Chardonnay 2005 at £52 for a wine that costs around £18.
Bread was made from scratch and was a pleasant, if somewhat dense, sourdough (14/20). Linguine was dried pasta and slightly al dente, with Ortiz (high end Spanish) anchovies, chilli and pangrattato (crispy breadcrumbs). The pasta was reasonable though the anchovies were present in very small quantities, though the chilli kick was about right (13/20).
Tagliatelle was made fresh and was, as one might expect, softer in texture, served with peas and mint. I liked this pasta more than the linguine, and the mint flavour was restrained, but the dish was let down by some tasteless peas (13/20 at most).
The best dish was a whole plaice with a salad of radish, cucumber and chervil. The plaice (from Ben's Fish in Colchester) had good flavour and was nicely cooked, the cucumber also fine (14/20). This was better than grilled mackerel which did not taste anywhere near as good (the manager confirmed when I asked him that the mackerel had not been delivered than day), though it was decently cooked, served with Castelluccio lentils and salsa rossa; the dish needed more salt, but above all better mackerel (12/20). I did enjoy the Rosevale potaotes as a side dish: the potatoes were of high quality and carefully cooked (easily 15/20).
Amalfi lemon tart had odd texture, more a sponge than a tart, and could have done with more acidity (12/20), but caramel pannacotta had good texture and nice caramel (14/20). Service was amiable though casual, with attention wandering even early on when there were few diners, though the waitresses knew who had ordered what and understood the menu. Wine topping up was erratic, but I don’t mind this in a casual place where the wine is left within reach.
The bill, even with one of the costliest wines on the list, was £68 a head before service, but it would be possible to eat for significantly less than this. While there were some minor ups and downs, the pricing is moderate. It is interesting to compare this with Zucca, another restaurant with an ex-River Café chef. I found the cooking a notch better at Zucca, but Trullo was a perfectly pleasant experience.
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