Lina Stores

Lina Stores have recently nabbed a spot convenient to any City worker in the ever-so-cool Bloomberg Arcade.  Filling the site of what was previously Andrew Wong’s excellent Kym’s, a pandemic casualty, Lina had big shoes to fill.  Though given their legendary name, their choice as second act was always a solid one.  In case you hadn’t heard of Lina Stores, their original outpost – the legendary Soho deli on Brewer Street – opened in 1944, where the art of fresh pasta was perfected.  Over the past five years, they’ve branched into the restaurant territory, opening a pasta restaurant around the corner on Greek Street in 2018, another in King’s Cross in 2019 and most recently, an overseas outpost in Tokyo!  All have been remarkably delicious successes. 

The space in the Bloomberg Arcade is a large one to fill but outfitted in Lina décor and hues, it’s undeniably beautiful.  Spanning two floors, the spot centres around the large, circular chrome bar, whose bottle display gracefully hugs the curve of the staircase behind, all the way up to the overlooking mezzanine.  True to their brand, the space is adorned with their signature mid-century pale pistachio green banquettes, green and white stripes, Italian style marble tables, distressed mirrors and gleaming silver fittings, all shone through low-slung opaline pendant lighting.

Lina’s food is overseen by head chef Masha Rener, who spearheaded the company’s transition from deli to restaurant back in 2018.  Her menu hits all the Lina Stores high notes with antipasti including herb-laden bruschetta and the best focaccia around.  The fresh pasta includes truffle tagliolini and pumpkin agnolotti with butter, sage & hazelnuts. 

To start, my companion and I shared a Trio of Bruschette (£8) – two with tomatoes, basil and olive oil, and the other with friarielli and chilli.  Whilst the first were summery sweet (even though it’s November!), the latter was garlicky deliciousness at its best, with all the greens to provide a sense of virtue to counteract the evening’s carb indulgence.  With standards set high, the Focaccia (£4) followed suit well, thanks to spot-on seasoning of rosemary and seal salt, and the best EVOO around for dipping – peppery sweet, in true Italian quality.

For pasta mains, amazingly Lina Stores offer three solid vegan options.  On recommendation by our upbeat Italian waiter, I went for the Buckwheat Tagliolini with Vegan Truffle Butter (£10).  Silky smooth, with enough truffle shavings to provide that rich note without becoming too overpowering, the pasta represents simplicity at its best.  The buckwheat pasta was an excellent vehicle for this luxurious sauce and though arriving on a small plate, it was perfectly propotionted and had the ideal amount of butter (and EVOO) for slurping. 

As for drinks, the wine list is wholly Italian featuring organic and biodynamic bottles, as well as orange and sparkling wines from Emilia Romagna, including Lambrusco and Franciacorta.  Plus, plenty of classic cocktails such as Negroni, Rosmarina and Limoncello Spritz.

Lina Stores are totally deserving of their reputation as one of the best pasta places in London and their Bloomberg Arcade spot provides a City site to enjoy quality Italian food at unbelievably reasonable prices.  Lina are next planning on opening at spot in Clapham, where The Dairy and Counter Culture used to be.  I cannot wait as Lina Stores is one of the (few) restaurants I’d return to again.

Lina City, 19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR

Website: https://www.linastores.co.uk/locations/bloomberg-arcade-restaurant-city

Rating: *****

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