La Porchetta – perfect pizzas and plentiful pastas.
La Porchetta on Upper St is one of a small (and some might say perfectly formed) north London chain that started with their first branch in Finsbury Park. This fresh, lively Italian leans more towards cafe than restaurant - a funky, fresh cafe at that.
This Islington favourite is lively and nearly always full, even with the host of other great places to choose from on Upper St. Good looking waiters and waitresses buzz between tables, lean against the serving counter chatting in Italian or swiftly pack up left over slices for a defeated diner to take home in a flat cardboard box. Service is usually quick (though avoid sitting downstairs if time is of the essence) and the atmosphere is busy.
La Porchetta are known for their classic, straightforward, good value Italian food - a meal with starters, mains and a bottle of wine comes in under £20 a head. Most diners plump for the huge, thin-crusted pizzas which arrive at the table - usually to a chorus of oohs and ahhs - flopping over the edge of the plate. All are present from the pizza hall of fame; Margherita, Americana, Fiorentina, Capricciosa. Ask for extra chilli or garlic oil for added zing. The pastas are hearty and filling, again focusing on the classics. The Spaghetti alla Vongole, with tangy tomato and salty clams, is a lip-smacking seafood treat – but just don't order it on a date.
They have a small, but handy list of friendly reds and crisp whites with a few beers to choose from. Peroni is perfect to hold in one hand while the other hand manoeuvres a drooping slice of Fantasia mouthwards.
The Last Word
Not the place for a long, luxurious, feed, more a quick and hugely satisfying pizza pit stop before dashing off somewhere else.