As close to the real thing as possible? Canonbury Kitchen in Islington is all about strong flavours and great tasting dishes – as good as you are most likely to find in Italy itself

Considering Italian food has been my cuisine of choice since what seems like the beginning of time (even as a nipper, I went through a phase of only eating macaroni cheese), the fact I haven’t actually been to the country is a rather dull fact I like bringing up at dinner parties. That will finally change in the coming weeks with a good friend tying the knot out there, so to celebrate I wanted to do what I have been doing for ever – eat some great Italian food.

We are not short of options in Angel for a spot of pasta, but my first visit to Canonbury Kitchen just over a year ago was a stand out memory for me. The creation of Max Tilelli, who has been a fixture in these parts for many years, I loved its simple approach to proceedings, all complemented by stunning food. I did worry that it’s location off the beaten track may be a problem, especially seeing many restaurants come and go on Upper Street, but returning I was delighted to see it was busy – and still creating authentic, tasty Italian food.

The menu isn’t vast, but it doesn’t need to be. Despite this fact, it still took me some time to plump for the pappardelle with ragu of wild boar to start, followed by guinea fowl breast glazed with honey and balsamic vinegar and spinach. The former just won out over the baked aubergine as I couldn’t envisage going through the meal without pasta and I wasn’t disappointed with the perfectly cooked strips of pappardelle, and the wild boar that packed a real punch. So good I would have happily eaten it again as a main, but luckily I had the guinea fowl breast instead: a supreme cut drizzled in a gloriously addictive sauce. I can only imagine my wide-eyed, crazed look as I wiped up every last drop.


From grilled swordfish to tender pasta dishes, the Canonbury Kitchen menu fits the bill

My non-meat eating companion wasn’t left out: her Tiger prawns to start were ample in size and served up in a tasty butter sauce, and the spaghettini with fresh crab meat, mild chilli and lemon to follow was devoured with real zest. Desserts were a must too, although we both plumped for lighter options in the form of sorbet and ice-cream. Having not been to Italy and sample their restaurants in person, I don’t know how close Canonbury Kitchen is to the real thing – but it will have to be unbelievably good to surpass our own local offering.

Words: Mark Kebble

19 Canonbury LaneN1 2AS; 020 7226 9791;