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Food review: La Taberna, Barnsbury

PUBLISHED: 13:29 08 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:36 08 February 2017

La Taberna restaurant in Roman Way. Picture: La Taberna

La Taberna restaurant in Roman Way. Picture: La Taberna

Archant

Want an authentic alternative to commercial Italian restaurants? Then James Morris advises getting yourself down to La Taberna.

La Taberna starters: rice ball and spinach and chickpea soup. Picture: James MorrisLa Taberna starters: rice ball and spinach and chickpea soup. Picture: James Morris

Though it’s mainly residential, Hemingford Road in Barnsbury is a destination at weekends.

It’s most well known for the Hemingford Arms (a cosy pub coated from top to bottom in foliage) and Sunday (a brunch cafe where the queue outside never ends – and one gets the impression its clientele quite enjoy being seen queuing).

Less hyped is La Taberna, directly across the road in Roman Way. But it’s time to give this authentic, non-commercial Sicilian restaurant the recognition it deserves.

A family-owned restaurant which opened eight months ago, my friend and I have already eaten here, back in July. We loved it, and jump at the invite to do a Gazette review.

As a keen soup maker, I have to start by testing out the spinach and chickpea soup (£6). It’s a winner, with the spinach and chickpeas nestled on top of a perfectly seasoned tomato broth.

La Taberna mains: mussels and spaghetti meatballs. Picture: James MorrisLa Taberna mains: mussels and spaghetti meatballs. Picture: James Morris

My friend enjoys rice balls (£4), a delicious deep-fried treat which falls apart at the touch to reveal gooey mozzarella and tender mince beef.

For mains, I choose spaghetti meatballs (£11.50). These are the finest meatballs I have come across, perfectly moist and peppery.

And what is more, there are plenty of them on the bed of fresh spaghetti and tomato sauce (my gripe ordering spaghetti meatballs at any Italian restaurant ever is you tend to get a maximum of four – but La Taberna is three times as generous).

My seafood-obsessed friend cannot resist mussels (£11.50). She is delighted with the juicy clams, and even more so at the huge portion they come in.

For dessert, we share creamy and light tiramisu (£6) with fiendish hot chocolate brownies (£6.50).

La Taberna desserts: tiramisu and brownies. Picture: Carline ChengLa Taberna desserts: tiramisu and brownies. Picture: Carline Cheng

This, combined with our dense bottle of Cannonau (£25), means we finish off radiating the type of glow only possible after enjoying the most homely food.

But little touches also make a difference. I notice how our host, Lucilla, bids farewell at the door to every customer at the end of their meals. It’s a personal touch perfectly befitting of this family restaurant.

La Taberna, 1 Roman Way, N7 8XG. Call 020 7607 3519.


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