What's the draw?
Stop us if you think you've heard this one before, but fresh handmade pasta is having a bit of a moment in London. Bully for you, then, that Elia Sebregondi and Enzo Mirto have opened up Officina 00 on Old Street – a warm and welcoming Italian restaurant where you can get your fill of that cuisine du jour at a reasonable price. The '00' portion of the name stems from the classification of flour used to make the in-house pasta while 'officina' is an Italian name for a workshop where goods are manufactured. In this case, the goods happen to be the piles of fresh, flaxen dough contorted by Officina's expert sfoglino into a myriad of shapes and sizes. A Renaissance painter would have had a field day with the anatomical spread of orecchiette (ears), occhi (eyes), and ombelico (belly buttons) coming out of the restaurant's pass, and we've got admit that we felt pretty inspired ourselves eating each al dente portion of pasta. It's good time for a change in your habit of eating at the same three pasta spots ad infinitum – so please, please, please come here and get whatever you want. Lord knows it won't be the last time you visit.
What to drink?
We start with a brace of aperitivo cocktails. A summery 00 Spritz (prosecco, Aperol, St-Germain, Elemakule bitters, and grapefruit) had the ochre shade of a sunset while the Cynar Spritz (prosecco, Cynar and grapefruit) was more dark and autumnal, blessed with a thoughtful, deep set expression that was no less delicious to stare at or sip. Wine and pasta have definitely got a little something-something going on and it'd be criminal not to order at least a glass to go with your meal. We went red on the night and enjoyed a 2017 Primitivo from Puglian producer, A Mano. Big on the tannins and full-bodied in all the right places, that ruby wine went down easy and tasted as if an intrepid troop of blueberries had somehow snuck their way into the barrel during the ageing process. We'll be back soon to see what the rest of the list is like. The only question on our minds being: how soon is now?
What to eat?
All good meals should begin with a dish that massages your taste buds into life. Officina's fried cacio e pepe ravioli do just that – pudgy little hot pockets packed with cheese, pepper and a serious sense of amore that don't so much awaken your palate as toss it off the bed and force a piping hot double shot of espresso down its throat. The Jewish-Roman staple of artichoke giudìa fare best when swaddled in fennel mayo as a crisp bruschetta heaped with 'nduja, stracciatella and mint rounds off an affable opening round of starters. But on to the pasta.
Pumpkin gnocchi is an absolute dreamboat, turning up to the party dressed in a brown butter sauce dappled in polka dots of gorgonzola
Pumpkin gnocchi is an absolute dreamboat, turning up to the party dressed in a brown butter sauce dappled in polka dots of gorgonzola and a singular, seductive sage leaf. Although the dish looks so pristine we almost let it sit pretty as a table decoration, bigmouth strikes again and we're soon reeling around the fountain of that caramelised butter with Officina's in-house bread, dashing any hopes of taking it home for the night. Heaven knows you'll be miserable when there's none of that sweet and smoky-eyed reduction left. Corzetti with wild mushroom, fennel sausage and parsley arrests us, too; a dish comprised of concentric discs of dough boiled in white wine till sweet, chewy and pleasantly un-uniform in size. Sure, some are bigger than others but, when they're all that delicious, what difference does it make? The tiramisu – dusted in orange zest and sexed-up with a glug of Cointreau – makes for a angelic climax. To dine at Officina 00 is such a heavenly way to dine.
Cocktails from £7.5, snacks from £2. 156 Old Street, EC1V 9BW; officina00.co.uk