Eating out in London – Rasa N16 – L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
To kick off my birthday celebrations I recently took a trip to London, taking the opportunity to catch up with my cousin and her husband, as well as enjoying some fine South Indian food at Rasa and L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele which serves the best pizza outside of Naples, (allegedly) in Stoke Newington.
We decided to spend most our time in Stoke Newington, North London rather than battling the crowds in central London.
Stoke Newington is an area which has the right balance of decent quality cafes and restaurants, as well as a few trendy more hipster places, if you want that. For a taste of Keralan cuisine we went to the South Indian restaurant Rasa on Stoke Newington Church Street for dinner. This is the road where you’ll find many of the best shops, bars and restaurants and day or night it has an energetic buzz.
Rasa is relatively small and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, it seems everyone comes here to just enjoy the authentic vegetarian food. In fact, The Guardian tout it as the best of the Rasa group for the experience and food as they do have a handful of restaurants in the capital now.
We were shown to our table and I got to admire the pink walls (the exterior is pink too!), then it was time for the tough decisions…what to order? There were a lot of temptingly described dishes, we went for Mysore Bonda (£3.50) as a starter to share.
These are a tea time snack described as ‘potato balls laced with fresh ginger, curry leaves, coriander and black mustard seeds, dipped and fried in chickpea flour batter and crisply fried.’ Anything fried is always a winner and together with the fragrant spices and fresh coconut chutney we were off to a good start.
For mains, we shared a Nair Dosa (£6.75), a fried pancake (made from gram and rice flour) filled with potatoes, carrot and ginger and served with a coconut chutney and sambar on the side. At this point I was thinking maybe we’d ordered too much…
We had Rasa Vangi (£4.75), a curry made with tender spiced aubergines and curry leaves, served in a spiced tomato sauce. Aubergines are one of my favourite vegetables in a curry as they become silky soft and absorb the other flavours. For our other sides, we opted for a fluffy lemon rice (£2.95) and a buttery paratha bread (£2.50), both were well done.
Rasa provided the perfect feast, the spicing was balanced, the menu is great value, service was pitched right and there was no fancy gimmicks, the focus was just on the food, as should be.
55 Stoke Newington Church Street
London, N16 OAR
Woodberry Wetlands and L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
On the Saturday, we enjoyed gorgeous weather and took a walk around the London Wildlife Trust’s Woodberry Wetlands, which I’d highly recommend. It is a beautiful natural space which was re-opened in 2016 by Sir David Attenborough, after being closed to the public since 1833. We had a breakfast bagel in the Coal House cafe which boasts this view!
Our walk continued onto Abney Park which is ‘one of the ‘magnificent seven’ garden cemeteries of London and is a woodland memorial park and Local Nature Reserve.’ It is an interesting place with so much history to be discovered around every corner. We found our way back onto Church Street and cooled down with a homemade lemonade in the outside space of the Green Room cafe. The cafe sits at the back of a flower shop which you walk through to emerge into a spacious outside seating area, where you can enjoy drinks, cake or lunch.
Green Room Cafe
113 Stoke Newington Church Street
London, N16 0UD
After a leisurely beer and read of the papers in The Prince, I rounded off my trip with lunch in the relatively new L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele which opened in February this year. Since 1870 they had just the one pizzeria in Naples and here they are opening another in London. They are serious about pizza making, allowing 24 hours for the dough to rise, working with precise temperatures, using a custom build wood fire oven and importing the vital ingredients – san marzano tomatoes and mozzarella from Italy.
Here simplicity is king and the choices are just a Margherita (tomato, mozzarella and basil) or the Marinara (tomato, oregano, garlic and oil) which you can eat in or take-away. For a generous sized regular Margherita you will pay less than £7, which is well-priced for London.
It was a great pizza, the base was crisp and chewy with the characteristic charred bubbled leopard spots, topped with sweet tomato, a little basil and melted mozzarella. A fine way to round off my weekend of celebrating.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
125 Stoke Newington Church Street