A reasonably priced Upper Street eatery offering authentic Italian fare.
La Forchetta is located in the centre of Upper Street’s cluster of restaurants, facing the Islington Green and flanked by similar bustling establishments. A simple one room affair packed with very basic furniture and table settings, which spill out onto the street itself providing an ideal spot for a meal spent watching the world go by, La Forchetta imparts a truly Italian feel upon first sight. This is enhanced by the simplistic decor: walls lined with post-impressionist paintings of wine bottles and culinary scenes, as well as the very simple colour scheme, all of which go some way to implying that the sole concern of the restaurant is not its appearance.
The clientele at La Forchetta are what you would expect from a restaurant in the midst of Upper Street, with the majority being young, fashionable twenty-to-thirtysomethings with a generous scattering of the office crowd. The location, clientele and close proximity of the tables all contribute to an extremely bustling and vibrant atmosphere that to some may seem off-putting but is in truth endearing and adds to the authenticity of the establishment.
One stereotypical characteristic of authenticity however, which La Forchetta could do without, is the questionable service. Scurrying waiters either do not look to see if you are in need of assistance or in some cases completely ignore you. On top of this, a simple request such as for the bill may need to be repeated several times for the desired outcome to be achieved. Even though it could be argued that this adds to the overall charm and idiosyncrasy of the place, being ignored is not worthy of a service charge let alone a generous tip.
Along with the decor and service, the food at La Forchetta is similarly authentically Italian in that it is simple, well-prepared and ultimately satisfying. The menu contains a wide number of vegetarian and fish options, as well as a considerable number of pizzas and pasta dishes on offer. Added to this there is also a special lunch time deal, which allows the diner to purchase any pasta or pizza dish for £4.90. The antipasti options include the traditional Bruschetta, which is light, refreshing and provides the perfect start to a meal, and the Melanzane alla Parmigiana (baked aubergine topped with tomato, basil, mozzarella and Parmesan), which is equally satisfying, being perfectly seasoned and with the amount of cheese not being overwhelming to be too filling for a starter, but enough to complement the warmth of flavour that is imparted by the soft, unctuous layers of tomato and basil, and aubergine underneath.
The main courses continue to uphold the standard set by the antipasti with the Lasagne al Forno providing a culinary definition of comfort food. Coming in its own earthenware dish with bubbling, molten mozzarella and Parmesan on top, it is truly an enticing dish.
Thankfully, the contents below the surface of the lasagne do not let down its appearance, with the noodles being perfectly cooked, the overall dish seasoned well and best of all, the dish is not dominated by over-zealous use of bechamel sauce, which is instead used with restraint so that it perfectly matches the wholesome ragu that generously smothers all of the components within. The king prawns in garlic butter with rice, which is served with sauteed potatoes and seasonal vegetables (like all the main courses) is unfortunately not of the same calibre as the aforementioned dishes. Although the king prawns are of good quality and are well cooked, providing plump and juicy morsels of seafood, the garlic butter sauce is almost too rich and almost over-powering.
Coupled with the fact that it seems a bit unnecessary to pair potatoes and rice on the same plate, even though they are both reasonably well cooked, the end result upon finishing the dish is one of uncomfortable fullness, leaving little room for dessert. The dessert menu contains staple Italian favourites ranging from traditional Italian ice creams to the tiramisu, which although light, refreshing and with the perfect amount of coffee added, is slightly to sweet and borders on being cloying.
La Forchetta offers a number of wines, predominantly Italian, with a bottle of the house being available for around £10. On top of this the bar is suitably well equipped to provide traditional and classic cocktails.
The Last Word
Even though the food at La Forchetta is spot on in terms of authenticity, generosity of portions, and overall taste, the service leaves much to be desired. However, even though it is not a restaurant that plans should be made around, it is still worth suffering the brusque service to enjoy a truly authentic Italian meal.