We’ve been visiting Lina Stores on Brewer Street in Soho for years. The little delicatessen with it’s green striped awning has long been our go to place for a quick coffee, our favourite Italian biscuits and a feeling of nostalgia we haven’t found anywhere else. It’s always reminded us of our Nonna. Whilst catching up with the Capetti cousins recently, we found ourselves in fits of giggles remembering times we’d spent with her. Whilst most grandparents would take their grandchildren to a sweetshop to choose a sugary treat, we were taken to the local deli and told to choose a ham… Strange to most (and us at the time!), but it definitely fuelled our love and appreciation for great ingredients.
It’s this reason that we were ridiculously excited to hear that Lina Stores was opening a restaurant. Back in May, we splashed through the rainy streets of Soho in search of the iconic green door, and were welcomed inside as though we were old friends.
The decor is a true reflection of the Brewer Street deli. Upstairs, you can take a seat at the mint green tiled bar and watch the pasta masters at work, or head downstairs to the intimate and stylishly simple restaurant complete with black and white photographs hanging on the white washed stone walls.
We took a table in the corner of the restaurant where an Aperol spritz was swiftly placed in front of us. We loved it already.
The menu is perfectly small with a handful of antispasti options and eight pasta dishes to choose from. It was lovely to hear the staff talk so passionately about the food and they were all keen to share their recommendations with us. We easily could have ordered everything on the menu!
We started with bread and extra virgin olive oil for dipping, olives and baby artichoke hearts, Aubergine Polpette and Prosciutto di Parma. The bread and olives were great, as expected, and the wafer thin ham just melted in the mouth, but it was the aubergine that proved to be the favourite. A vegetarian’s answer to a meatball – tender aubergine and san marzano tomatoes encased in golden and crispy breadcrumbs. Next time we’re ordering two portions.
A bottle of wine ordered and we were on to the pasta. Served as small sharing plates, make sure you order a selection and enjoy tapas style. It took us forever to make up our minds (again, we could have easily ordered everything! Still wishing we did…).
We settled on the Pici alla Norcia (pici, porcini mushrooms & umbrian sausage), Ravioli de Vitello (veal ravioli, wild garlic & toasted breadcrumbs), Gnudi con Burro e Salvia (ricotta & herb gnudi, sage & brown butter) and Tortelloni di Zucchine e Menta (courgette tortelloni, tomato & mint sauce).
Every dish was delicious in it’s own way and between us we couldn’t agree on a favourite. If we had to choose it would probably be a toss up between the light, moreish gnudi (soft ricotta and herbs rolled with semolina into dumplings) and the courgette tortelloni – the fresh tomato and mint sauce made the dish really light and refreshing.
We sadly couldn’t squeeze in a dessert (possibly because we’d started the afternoon with tiramisu at Pompi, but that’s a story for another time!) which just means we’ll have to go back to try all four…
If you’re after an Italian atmosphere, friendly faces and GREAT pasta, we couldn’t recommend Lina Stores enough. It felt like home.