South Italian rustic fare at is finest
Tucked away on a side street, Radici is a chic, modern space with dishes that stick in the memory
04 January, 2018 — By Tom Moggach
Pizzas at Radici, which is directly opposite The Almeida Theatre, are of a high-calibre, with prices between £8 and £12
THEATRE fans may know Radici, but most hungry visitors to Upper Street don’t know what they’re missing.
This well-priced Italian is tucked away on a side street, directly opposite The Almeida Theatre.
It’s a newish venture from highly rated chef and local resident Francesco Mazzei, whose other restaurants include the swanky L’Anima in the City – a destination best left to those with lavish expense accounts.
Thankfully, Radici is far more inclusive. The best dish we ate was a slippery bowl of pasta and beans – “taglierini, fagioli & pancetta” – for a bargain £8.
This restaurant is a slick operation – in a positive sense. It’s a partnership between Mazzei and D&D, a group whose portfolio spans London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. As a result, the owners have the cash to invest in well-trained, professional staff and some smart design.
Radici is a chic, modern space done up with flashes of rustic wood and pastel blues. A vase of spiky chestnuts decorates the bar, where they mix up cocktails and aperitifs such as prosecco with a splash of marsala, lemon and bergamot liqueur.
A large open-plan kitchen spans the back, where laid-back chefs twist tortelli pasta and stretch pizzas under orderly rows of gleaming copper pans.
Radici is big – around 100 well-spaced seats – with a laid-back atmosphere. This makes it ideal for a last-minute meal or for large family groups, as children have the space to roam.
We started with a few cicchetti – snacks such as smoked aubergine croquettes or bruschetta topped with spicy ‘nduja, a spreadable pork salami.
Starters feature an oozy, wobbly burrata with grilled broccoli, anchovy and hazelnuts for extra crunch, or a charred fillet of squeaky fresh mackerel with a soft boiled egg and Sicilian peppers.
But it’s the pasta dishes that stick in the memory. A seafood fettucine (£13) was spiked with slices of cuttlefish, mussels and flecks of red chilli.
Our pasta and beans was best of all, the two carbs swimming in a thick, intense broth with subtle bass notes of rosemary and slivers of salty pancetta. This is unpretentious, southern Italian cooking at its very best.
Special mention is due to the courgette fries (£6). These were faultless and a gigantic serving, too.
Pizzas (£8-£12) are also high calibre, ranging from a margherita to a Sicilian-inspired number with aubergine and smoked ricotta.
I can’t vouch for the main courses (£14-£18), which include a fish dish and chicken Calabrese. My instinct says it’s best to stick to the cicchetti and pastas, saving space for the rum baba for dessert.
On Mondays, Radici offer no corkage on bottles bought from nearby wine shop The Sampler. They also offer a special pre and post-theatre menu: two courses for £15; three for £18.
“Rustic, traditional and chilled,” is how the manager describes Radici. It’s certainly been a favourite with the theatre buffs since it opened; now it’s time for the rest of us to pile in.
30 Almeida Street, N1
020 7354 4777