11:57 am March 17, 2022
Sandwiched between the Bellanger Brewery and The Fox pub, Louis Korovilas’ “neighborhood” pasta restaurant exudes a lively modern charm overlooking Islington Green.
The former Locatelli and Bancone chef wants Noci – Italian for nut – to feature regional Italian dishes, including Sicilian street snacks.
A few days after opening, we discovered a friendly, not stuffy energy with warm blonde hues and clean lines. Families are welcome and the short menu includes simple pasta with tomato or pesto for £7.
There are also chef’s touches and authentic combinations – a mix of modernity, tradition and region – with a touch of Korovilas flair. Channeling Sicily’s “friggitoria” vendors, there are fried parcels of leek, taleggio, gorgonzola and walnuts, or saffron and nduja arancini with pecorino and parmesan, or calamari fritti with a bagna cauda (cotton dip). garlic and anchovies). You could enjoy it with handfuls of homemade herbed focaccia.
But beyond the street food, there are other delicacies: dried bresaola with celeriac and star anise, or fennel and blood orange with sheep’s cheese. We opted for a silky, creamy burrata, offset by sweet and sour earthy beetroot and crunchy nuts. We shared this with seared albacore tuna, served with crisp green beans and an intense sun-dried tomato vinaigrette – washed down with a fruity-bitter seasonal spritz (the fruit changes monthly) tossed with a sprig of rosemary .
Main courses are all pasta based and pair well with a carafe of Veneto rose. My hearty Genovese stew of slow-cooked veal and pork was a tale of sweet and savory – sweetened from caramelized onions and salt from flowery shavings of Swiss Tête de Moine (“monk’s head”), cheese that is scraped to your table using a chanterelle. My companion’s seared scallops sat on a dark green pappardelle, dressed in crispy bites of pancetta and cavolo nero.
An open shoulder of lamb ravioli with herbs or the iconic wild mushroom with a Burford brown egg confit were equally mouth-watering. I may have to go back there.
Desserts include a family-friendly whipped ice cream with frosted pistachios, but we opted to share a rich miso panna cotta with bitter chocolate and a white balsamic reduction. Spoon a pinch of each onto a spoon to thrill your taste buds. Three courses range from £20 to £30. With a good selection of decanter wines and draft cocktails, this is a place where families and friends can gather for lunch or dinner that won’t blow the wallet. Noci is a welcome addition to the thriving Upper Street restaurant scene.
Noci, 4-6 Islington Green. N1. Visit nocirestaurant.co.uk