Venetian dining in Hackney

I just love it when you find a restaurant that you've driven past countless times, never given it a second thought or even acknowledged it's potential, then suddenly one day a friend says lets meet there. You get to the door and think Hmmm wonder if this is really going to be any good but you go in and are immediately hit by the warmest most genuine welcome in the whole of the East End. These guys are Italian through and through, you feel like you're a part of a real Italian family dropping by to share a family meal. All the food is prepared on the premises, I know because I was fortunate enough to be invited 'backstage' to the tiny industrious kitchen filled with the most mouth watering odours.

Food here is honest and hearty with a distinct lack of pretension which can spoil so many restaurants when it's not done well. Delicious, from the sharing platters of various cured meats to the bread dipped in the fruity virgin olive oil to the simple main courses. I had the Beef Tagliata which was perfectly pink in the middle, accompanied by roasted vegetables, others had the baccala with polenta, the homemade pasta was to die for. I hadn't seen Matilda eat so well in ages even stretching to the green stuff, salad, dressed in olive oil. We ordered Tiramisu for pudding which was light, fresh and oh so moreish. The portions are reasonably generous we ordered a main course each plus a couple Parmigiana's to share, sadly we were just too full to stay for the Ragu and the Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake that was being made as I toured the kitchen. The sardines also looked incredibly appetising and they weren't even cooked at the time! The menu, posted up on a blackboard, changes daily. I understand that meat comes from The Ginger Pig and, the vegetables are all sourced locally to make up the most authentic Venetian dishes. Ombra is a great introduction to Venetian food, with it's small snack side dishes otherwise known as 'cicchetti' washed down with a lethal Artichoke liqueur Spritzer or an ombra (a small glass of wine hence the restaurant name which translates as shadow). Through the centuries Venetian cuisine has been  influenced by Jewish and Austrian flavours as well as the spices of Turkey and the Orient, amazingly there is only one local pasta, the Bigoli (thick round tubes). It is a cuisine that should be championed and explored.

So if you happen to find yourself in Vyner Street, pull over and get yourselves into this fantastic local restaurant,  just wish it was a little closer to home. Though it's probably for the best otherwise I might be tempted to move in, prices are so reasonable it would be feasible to give up the weekly shop and have your dinner here every night!