Monday, September 05, 2011

An Italian Love Affair in N1...

...I often wonder if there was ever a time when I lived in Islington that I didn't suggest eating out at Carluccios? The answer, probably not!

I can't help dropping by when walking Upper Street
My love affair with Carluccios, Upper Street, started when an ex-boyfriend (and fellow veggie!) first moved to Islington. I remember it well...On a warm spring evening we took a walk down Upper Street looking for somewhere to eat. The gorgeous cakes and biscuits in the blue window drew us to Carluccio's and the delicious food kept us coming back for more, more and more.

With so much choice on Upper Street alone, it's tough business for all the bustling and busy restaurants, but for me the Carluccio's menu has to be my favourite. There aren't many places where this self-confessed fussy eater spends time looking over a menu because I have too many favourites.

There is always a time or occasion that’s an excuse to visit or someone new to take to my favourite Italian caffe. I sometimes find myself wondering how I became so emotionally attached to a restaurant, but then I recall personal memories made in the red room, happy times and not forgetting the menus…

For breakfast it has to be the Breakfast Bread Tin (£3.95) a delicious mix of “Freshly baked croissant and toasted breads served with butter and our Italian jam, honey or clementine marmalade” teamed with with a silky smooth Cappuccino. For lunch I can't help but opt to mention the 'Al Fresco Picnic' service first recommended to me by an old friend. For £45 you get the best-ever picnic selection, and not only that, there is a special veggie option - full of focaccia, olives, pasta and deserts. A must-have for long, lazy summer lunches and a picnic that always makes other Highbury Field picnickers green with envy!

The Red Room holds so many memories. Make your own here too...
Then we have dinner, which, by the way, has to be served in the 'red room' at the back of the caffe. With the risk of sounding predictable here, it has to be a Savoury Bread Tim (£3.95) to share, or not to share in some cases! Get your companion to order a focaccia and do some more dipping. Perfect! That was always followed by one of my two favourite pasta dishes. The Gnocchi Di Patate Con Spinaci E Gorgonzola (£8.25) - a fresh potato gnocchi with a gorgonzola and spinach sauce or the Ravioli (£7.95) - truly delicious parcels of spinach and ricotta and served in true Italian style with a sage butter - perfetto! It is always a case of close my eyes and let my finger decide!

But remember to leave room for dessert. I want to try so many of the delicious cakes and deserts on offer, but I am afraid I’ll never get tired of savouring every last bite of the super-rich of the Torta Di Limone (£4.50) or making every mouthful of the creamy and warm Affogato with coffee (£4.60) last for as long as I can. It’s simply the best vanilla ice cream this side of Rome, surely?

Carluccio's Upper Street, London, N1 
Whatever you choose, I apologise in advance, but you won’t be able to walk down Upper Street without wanting to eat at Carluccio’s or at least taking a little shopping trip to buy some biscuits, giant pasta or coffee for the kitchen cupboard.

You know you want to...
305-307 Upper Street, London,  N1 2TU | Tel: 020 7359 8167 | Fax: 020 7354 9196

(My confession: Since leaving London Town, I would also admit to persuading my Northern friends to visit the Manchester, Trafford Centre branch on more than one occasion and grabbing a quick shopping lunch at Bicester Village.)

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