Have you guys seen that Netflix documentary The Magic Pill? It’s about the benefits of the ketogenic diet and how American nutrition guidelines were hijacked by corporations in the 60’s, therefore a lot of the research that advises us against animal fats and produce, particularly in relation to weight related diseases, is biased and partially untrue. The premise of the ‘keto diet’ is to restore your body’s natural reliance on naturally occurring fats for example, olive oil instead of glucose (ahem, pasta), because the structure of your cells needs this to function healthily. *Flashback to learning how to spell m-i-t-o-c-h-o-n-d-r-i-a*. So why am I bringing this up in a review of Italian restaurant Lina Stores? Well I 100% believe in this and my natural diet is as close as it can get to keto and I was like, “yes I am going to be so fit, I just need 20% more commitment”.
Then I went to a pasta heaven. I could blame the weather – there’s nothing like a storm to make you crave comfort food. Notably, it took a very wet walk and two cabs before I battled my way through London traffic and to the correct location (the deli is on Brewer Street, the restaurant is on Greek Street). I could also blame Instagram, where I first came across the mint green and striped newly opened restaurant. But inside all of us, even those with the strictest of diets, we all have a hankering for some homey Italian cooking and a strong aperitif.
For antipasti, my friend and I ordered the radicchio with anchovy dressing (£4.50), which was as subtle as this kind of fish can be and helped to strip the typical bitterness of this vegetable. We also had a serving of prosciutto de Parma (£5.50) and to save everyone some time, you can forgo this. Even though it’s freshly machine sliced, it lacked flavour and that wonderful sweetness that prosciutto should have. The texture was amiss, where the meat had almost zero suppleness. I loved the aubergine polpo, which comes in a pair and is served with a little dollop of punchy San Marzano tomato sauce (£4.50). Not realising it comes breaded – I hate most breaded things – the velvety texture inside made up for it. Although everything, down to the staff, were as authentic Italian as you can get, the pasta dishes were more or less positioned as the main course. We shared the Gnocchi con Piselli e Ricotta Salata (£8.50), which is a pea sauce and it was divine. The sweetness of the potato pasta was harmonious with the natural sugar of the greens and every bite was refreshing and satiating. Our cocktails were equally delightful, my friend knocked back two Italicus Sours (£8) but let that be a reflection of the quality rather than her fondness for alcohol. I tried the blood orange Bellini (£7), which tasted fresh with none of that awful saccharine after taste and just the right amount of booziness.
Desserts are meant to be a strong point at Lina Stores. I opted for the traditional Sicilian dessert of lemon sorbet with a shot of limoncello, my friend went for the frangipani tart with Amarena cherries (both around £7). The best thing after a heavy meal is a bolt of something astringent to cut through all that after-taste on your tongue but I couldn’t finish more than half of my dessert. Portions here are very reasonable and paired with the prices, you can’t help but have a fondness for this humble yet upscale eatery.
The staff are accommodating and very friendly. You almost feel as if you really are in Italy – minus the bronzed skin and gleaming sunshine. However, if you’re planning to visit, make a reservation online as we did.
My ketogenic diet starts tomorrow…
51 Greek Street