Food for all seasons

Rob Bleaney samples the Italian delights on offer at the latest addition to Canonbury’s classy dining scene


19 Canonbury Lane, N1

020 7226 9791

A NEW trend seems to be sweeping London’s restaurant scene, with more and more places using “kitchen” in their name.

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Celebrity chef Tom Aikens has opened Tom’s Kitchen at Somerset House.

Gordon Ramsay’s latest venture opening imminently near St Paul’s goes by the name of Bread Street Kitchen.

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And closer to home in Finsbury Park, young restaurateurs Neil Gill and Michael Spurgeon are making waves in Stroud Green Road with the exciting new Season Kitchen.

Now a pair of Italian foodies with a wealth of restaurant knowledge and experience have thrown their hats into the ring and opened the stylish but laid-back Canonbury Kitchen.

The concept of these “kitchens” seems to be fresh, seasonal produce, with simple yet high quality ingredients, but in Canonbury, Max Tilleli and Massimo Corona are taking the idea even further by serving up food from different regions of Italy at different times of the year.

Both men hail from the south - Max from Calabria and Massimo from Naples – but they are serving up dishes from all corers of their homeland.

“Italian food is what we know and we will be offering food from all over the country,” explains Massimo. “Just not all at the same time.

“Sometimes we will focus on different regions and with it being winter at the moment we have lots of dishes from the north. In the summer we will probably focus on lighter dishes using lots of fish and lemon and olive oil which are more common in the hotter south.”

All very interesting, you may think, but you probably have to pay through the nose for it? Not so actually, with, mains all under �15 and a very informal atmosphere to boot.

With its exposed brickwork, wooden floors and tables, open kitchen and sliding doors which open out onto the street, Canonbury Kitchen is very laid-back and relaxed.

No doubt it will make a wonderful place for a focaccia brunch or a Sunday lunch of roast piglet once the owners put their ambitious plans into action, but it’s also a lovely place to while away an evening.

The menu is short and relatively simple, with the focus on ever-changing specials, and the starters are fantastic.

A clam, chilli and garlic linguine was exceptionally good, while a fritto misto of cuttlefish baby octopus and courgette was rather special too.

A pan fried sea bass with cherry tomato in white wine for main was typically Italian, and my medallions of beef with walnut and the truffle oil was a joy to behold.

A classy cheeseboard and a rather unique tiramisu provided a perfect end to an exceptional meal.

This cosy new restaurant is only a stone’s throw from Upper Street, a couple of doors down from the ever-lively bar 25 Canonbury Lane, and the owners are just as welcoming whether you want to pop in for a quick bowl of pasta or settle in for a three course meal. A word of caution though, it really would be a crime not to sample the starters coming out of this kitchen.

Mains: from �11.50

Wines: from �14.50

Children welcome: Yes

Disabled facilities: No

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