La Cucina Brick Lane – an Italian restaurant on the curry mile, who’d have thunk it??
For those who don’t know, Brick Lane is home to more Indian restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Such is the monopoly of curry houses – run by Bangladeshis – in this area, that some street signs are bilingual. In fact Londoners come from far and wide for a curry in Brick Lane.
So you could say La Cucina Brick Lane, an Italian restaurant with quite a few halal options, was a slightly risky option given the location.
But the risk has paid off, La Cucina restaurant offers authentic Italian food and is packed out every weekend.
The clue to its success is perhaps in the word ‘authentic’. There are Italian places that offer halal options and promise authenticity. Most takeaways miss the mark. And while I recently discovered that the Pizza Express chicken is halal, I’m not such a fan and still opt for their veg pizzas.
But La Cucina boasts a menu of beef steak, veal (though didn’t love this option), and seafood, as well as the custom pizza and pasta.
I’ve dined there a few times and have only had one misfire – I ordered veal, while my hubby had an ‘American hot’ pizza. My first – and probably last – experience of veal wasn’t good, the strange rubbery, spongy texture of veal wasn’t for me. The pizza meanwhile, was aggressively hot, even for my Asian palette.
But here’s the good stuff you SHOULD order if you dine there. The bruschetta is divine and comes with the freshest, juiciest tomatoes I’ve tried, the vegetariana pizza with artichokes and olives is a winner, and the spaghetti, whether with meatballs or mince, is a real hit.
We’ve also had chicken pasta and we always order dessert, just because the alcohol-free tiramisu and halal panacotta is divine.
A real plus of La Cucina is the ambience and service. There is a wood fire on display where the pizzas and bruschetta is cooked, and we often get served by Gabriel, the most well-informed waiter we’ve ever met. Gabriel helps us navigate through dishes we’ve never tried before, and he’s pretty much on the money with his recommendations.
So if you do head to Brick Lane or find yourself in the Shoreditch / Spitalfields area, it’s worth paying a visit to La Cucina. That’s if you can resist the many curry houses en route of course.