Restaurant review: Paesan, Exmouth Market, EC1

Paesan, at the bottom of Exmouth Market

Paesan, at the bottom of Exmouth Market - Credit: Archant

I’m not sure how many Italian restaurants there are in London, but it must be ­approaching four figures.

The pizza fritta

The pizza fritta - Credit: Archant

In a bid to differentiate his new venture from this plethora of pasta joints, owner Anthony Brown, whose pedigree for Italian cooking runs deep, has adopted the concept of cucina povera – kitchen of the peasant.

As a result you get all sorts of oddities not found in most Italian establishments; things like pizza frittas, which are fried before going in the oven to give extra crisp; animal stomach lining, gnudi and so on.

The restaurant stands proudly at the bottom of ­Exmouth Market on a ­corner space that was formerly home to a steak house, but the interior has been completely changed to give a pleasing, appropriately rustic ­appearance.

We started with a do-it-yourself antipasta board, taking our pick from a wide selection of meats and cheeses; and the salami, proscuitto, burrata and marvellous plump Tuscan olives got things off to a flying start.


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From the piccolo selection we had the arancinci; delicate rice balls freshened with lemon, and a tripe and steak ragu, which was dripping in rich meat and tomato flavours, which overpowered the sometimes unsettling aftertaste of the offal. For the mains, the linguini pasta was fantastic, chilli and garlic packing a hefty punch and permeating right the way through the dish.

The bistecca tagliata was a simple affair but effective, essentially a steak and cheese salad but lovely nonetheless. Thin strips of juicy beef with generous shavings of salty parmigiano, it’s definitely one for the chaps.

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In a crowded market place, Paesan has brought enough to the table to stand out.

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