Trullo, 300 – 302 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2LH
Trullo has been on our list for a long time, and even more so since getting married last summer at Trullo Fico, this beautiful house in Puglia (a trullo is a is a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof, more info here). Hoping to recreate our amazing time in Italy, and the simple yet stunning cuisine, we headed off to the less beautiful Highbury. I hadn’t been to the area for years, not since I was a north Londoner. There didn’t seem to be much else there restaurant-wise, so Trullo really stood out – a retreat from the slightly intimidating youths on the street.
We were eating at the new Trullo Downstairs, they have converted their basement space into a cocktail bar and restaurant, it even has a separate kitchen, upstairs is lovely and cosy with a bit of a buzz, downstairs is more romantic with a slower pace. We spotted a little cubby-hole which would be great if you were on a date, or having an affair… The menu is very similar to that of upstairs but focuses on small sharing plates. The plates we ate off were the smallest plates we’ve ever used, more of a saucer in fact.
A variety of carefully crafted cocktails are offered, using Italian flavours of course. Ade had the Espresso Martini Union Espresso, hazelnut syrup and vodka and said it was the best drink he’s ever had! Now that’s a compliment. He also had a White Negroni white wine, Kammerling’s, pear liqueur, gin, lemon twist £9, which he said got stronger the more he drank, funny that. My Lion’s Tail Rum, lime, sugar, Amaro Averna, orange twist £8 was OK, but a bit like Campari. The wine menu was surprisingly lacking in Puglian wines, only two reds, the cheapest a Primitivo at a whopping £29,the same wine would set you back £3 in Puglia, we’re not even joking. And you can’t have it by the glass, I settled for a glass of Valli Unite Ottavio Rube Rosso, Dolcetto, Barbera, 2010 £5, I chose it because it’s one of those natural wines with less sulphites like they do at Meatballs. Less sulphites = less hungover the next day.
The menu changes daily, but there are some items which are regulars. We were advised to order 3-4 plates each. We started off with some Puglian olives £3.50, and some Sourdough and Amano olive oil £2.50. The olives were plump and light, but the serving of olive oil was so small that we ran out and didn’t get a proper idea of the flavour, we should’ve asked for more.
The Bruschetta with slow-cooked cuttlefish, Florence fennel and red wine £7.50 arrived first, alongside the Castelfranco, blood orange and mint salad £5. We hadn’t tried cuttlefish before, so it was a first for us both. Soft and rich, kind of like a tender squid meat, it was the winner of the night for Ade. The leaves were bitter, (Castelfranco is like radicchio), loved the blood orange and pomegranate combination, added a freshness alongside the bruschetta.
Next up was the Chorizo, chickpeas, roast red onion and parsley £7, I’m not a big fan of Chorizo unlike Ade, but I loved this dish, we mopped up every last drop with the sourdough. The Black Hampshire pork chop with Castelluccio lentils £10 was the unexpected winner for me. The lentil sauce had a fantastic kick, a stunning dish, shame I had to share…
The dish I had heard the most about and was looking forward to the most was the Pappardelle with beef shin ragu £6.50, made from 35-day hung Herefordshire beef. It was lighter than I imagined, not a rich flavoursome sauce, but still lovely, and I fought for more than my half with Ade. It arrived with the Potatoes alla plancha with smoked paprika £4.50, shame as they would’ve been great with the pork. They had a Spanish feel to them, much like Patatas bravas, minus the sauce, lovely.
Dessert was a tricky decision as we wanted them all. We eventually narrowed it down to a Caramel pannacotta £6, Upside down rhubarb and almond cake £6, and a ‘taster’ portion of both the Blood orange sorbet £4.50 and Honeycomb and stem ginger ice-cream £4.50. The pannacotta was perfectly silky smooth with the right amount of wobble, the cake moist with a gooey caramelised top, I imagined how good it would be with custard! The sorbet was quite indistinguishable in flavour, but the ice cream was gorgeous. I finished off with a Limoncello Cassano Limoncello 1875 (£3 for 25ml ), could quite easily have continued with those.
I found that I fell in love with the dishes that I least expected to, but loved the Trullo experience. Like I said at the beginning, it made a refreshing change to have a low-key, quiet relaxed meal, being there reminded me of the little restaurants I used to visit when I lived nearby. My tweets about our visit provoked a flurry of responses from people that have also had it on their list and were eager to know what it was like. You’ll find it easier to get a walk-in spot here than in the heavily booked main room. It’s on the pricey side, especially once all the plates mount up, but worth it for a blow-out or special occasion, a worthy little place.
300 – 302 St Paul’s Road,
London, N1 2LH
Telephone: 020 7226 2733
*PLEASE NOTE* Trullo Downstairs is only open Thursday to Saturday ~ 18:30 to 22:30
Nearest tube: Highbury & Islington