Established in 1944, Lina Stores has been keeping Soho well stocked in Italian produce for over 75 years. It’s a cute shop and a slice of old school London which is fast fading, becoming flats and coffee shops.
In this uncertain climate for restaurants it is particularly exciting to see Lina Stores expanding – they’ve just opened a pasta restaurant nearby on Greek Street (a few doors down from L’Escargot) and it’s a corker.
The shop’s trademark mint green stripes make for a striking frontage. Inside there’s a basement dining room and a ground floor counter overlooking the kitchen which has a really buzzy atmosphere.
We start with bread and Alma Mater Bio extra virgin olive oil (£2). This is the best olive oil in the whole world says the manager (possibly the most passionate man in existence). It is gorgeous to be fair. So are olives with baby artichoke hearts (£3.75).
Prosciutto di Parma DOP (£5.50) is sliced in front of us and it really is quite special. It has that soft melty texture of raw bacon that is so comforting and indulgent. They give us more bread which goes down a treat.
Pasta is the real star here. While ‘pici alla norcina’ (£7) won’t win any prizes for presentation, the strings of thick pasta with mushrooms and sausage in a cream sauce are certainly delicious. Grey/brown/beige food always tastes the best.
Tortelloni filled with courgette and mint (£9) are light and fresh. A deluge of sweet tomato sauce adds comfort food-factor. Pappardelle with rabbit ragu (£10) is only let down by a couple of bones found in the sauce. It is otherwise a lovely plate of pasta.
For dessert, a lemon sorbet with accompanying shot of limoncello (£4) comes in a hollow lemon – from the Amalfi Coast of course. It zings. It’s still zinging now. More indulgent is a pastry cannolo filled with sweet ricotta (£4.50). At one end there’s chocolate, the other pistachio. Heaven.
Although only open a few weeks, the Lina Stores restaurant felt like it had been there for years and the place was rammed – a sign that Londoners’ love of pasta ain’t going anywhere. Here’s another one for your pasta hitlist.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant