Berto Adds More Competition To Holloway's Burgeoning Food Scene
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Holloway Road didn't used to look like this.
10 years ago there weren't pubs like this — craft beer meccas with an industrial aesthetic or fun houses with indoor crazy golf. There weren't people queueing out the door for pizzas with charcoal dough. And there weren't diners out on the pavement underneath awnings, eating from the most colourful plates known to London. But thanks to Berto, that last box has now been ticked too.
Berto is the sister restaurant to the aforementioned neighbouring pizzeria Zia Lucia, which has expanded at a phenomenal rate thanks to its excellent product — the gorgonzola, truffle and apple laden Andrea Pirlo is the most memorable pizza I've had in London this year. There's a lot for Berto to live up to.
To start I can't decide between the sautéed asparagus and the sautéed chicory. So naturally, I opt for both. The asparagus — with delightfully flaked parmesan chilling atop it — hits the spot, but the chicory is just nothing. It's completely flavourless and drowned in oil. One can't help but wonder whether the chef forgot to add seasoning before sending it out. Still, I'm sipping a Negroni Sbagliato — lowkey contender for London's cocktail of 2019? — fizzy, boozy, and at £7 not outrageously priced.
So far food wise, a hit and a miss. For mains we opt for the buffalo ricotta filled ravioli with sage and lemon zest. At least that's what the menu states, we can't find any hint of lemon in the dish. Once again, it's all a bit bland. We grab a salt grinder from the next table over, and a few twists helps bring the dish to life. My companion orders far better — the strozzapretti with sardines bounces around the mouth with flavour. Sardines are a naturally salty fish so there was never any chance of this being bland, but the tomatoes and parsley mean this is more than just flavoursome — it's top of the range. However, its deliciousness puts all of the ravioli's shortcomings into sharper focus.
Finally dessert time and it's more of the same. The chocolate fondant is gorgeously gooey and sweet. The contrast comes from the cannolini. Sicily's most famous dessert is done a disservice. The dish doesn't know whether it wants to be a dessert or not, the cheese filling is far too savoury. We could've done with some of this saltiness earlier in the night, not now.
The night ends and I wonder whether my ordering was to blame. I went for a pasta dish that wasn't customisable with one of the five types of dough. If this review was solely based off my companion's orders, it would be overwhelmingly positive. But there aren't any excuses for subpar dishes.
Berto, 155 Holloway Road, N7 8LX.
Last Updated 27 September 2019