5-Star Service, 3-Star Food – Restaurant Review: Jamie’s Italian, Islington

Spanning three floors in the notorious Angel building, just a stone’s throw away from Angel underground station, Jamie’s Italian offers a classy yet comfortable dining atmosphere.

On the ground floor, a cocktail and spritz bar offers a laid back setting for drinks and bar food, with free nibbles available from 5-7pm on weeknights (even if you’re not ordering any food).

The restaurant has plenty of space to seat large groups, and you don’t necessarily need a booking either. I visited Jamie’s in Angel when I was in London recently with a group of colleagues. There were 17 of us in total, and when we walked in without a booking they still managed to seat us without any issues, simply rearranging some of the tables and chairs on the second floor to fit us all in.

The menu is the same as the Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Cardiff, although there are some daily specials available too. Choices include a range of antipasti dishes and sides, pasta, meat, poultry and seafood mains, with a dessert menu and children’s menu also available.

To start, I ordered the artisan bread basket (£3.95). This consisted of a large wedge each of  rosemary focaccia and sourdough, several slices of seeded crackerbread and grissini breadsticks, accompanied by cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic and olive tapenade for dipping.

The sourdough and foccaccia were fresh and delicious, while the seeded crackerbread was full of flavour. All of the breads tasted delicious dipped into the olive oil and balsamic, and the olive tapenade was quite tasty too. Probably best to order this to share, though – there’s no way I could’ve eaten it all by myself alongside my main course!

For my main, I opted for one of my favourite Italian dishes – penne carbonara (£3.95). This was a generous serving of perfectly-cooked penne in a creamy carbonara sauce, containing crispy chunks of smoked pancetta. In a twist on the traditional recipe, this version also included buttered leeks.

Upon first impressions, my meal looked a little dried up, but by giving it a quick stir I was able to redistribute the sauce. It had probably just been left on the serving shelf for a bit too long, while the kitchen finished preparing orders for the rest of our table.

The sauce wasn’t overly cheesy and the pancetta tasted great, but the addition of leeks didn’t really do it for me – it made the dish taste somewhat sickly.

Considering there were 17 people dining on our table our waitress, Elona, coped very well in terms of getting our orders correct and ensuring we didn’t wait too long for our food (not to mention staying so calm when we told her we each needed to pay for our orders separately to get individual receipts!)

I enjoyed my visit to Jamie’s Italian in Angel, Islington, but as I don’t visit Islington very often I probably won’t end up going there again. If I was in the area in future, I’d be more inclined to try out an independent restaurant instead. The service was fantastic and the value for money was pretty good too, but the food was a little disappointing. In any case, what I can get from Jamie’s in Islington, I can get from Jamie’s in Cardiff.

Jamie’s Italian, Islington
409-411 St John Street
North Retail
Angel Building
London
EC1V 4AB
(020) 3435 9915
www.jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants/islington

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