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Hidden gem.

La Gabbia is now CLOSED – will get a post on replacement, Ernest, ASAP

We visited La Gabbia (NE2 1AP) after getting a recent voucher on Groupon, which I can only hope has boosted this restaurants profile – it’s location is a little out of the way but charming nonetheless.

Upon arrival, we were offered a seat in the large waiting area, which is littered with local coffee table books and magazines, such as The Viz (interesting…) by our server, who introduced herself and explained the small menu.

As we used Groupon for the booking, we were limited to 2 pizzas and 2 cocktails; however we were told that these could be swapped for pasta or risotto. In fact such was the flexibility, my partner ordered a pasta with ingredients not on the menu – good to see a very accommodating kitchen. I also noticed that any pasta dish could be made with gluten free pasta, a nice touch.

We were taken through to a cosy restaurant area and quickly served our San Pellegrino, and our starter, homemade bread basket came soon after. The chunky bread and small pieces of flat bread came with a rich green pesto, and balsamic vinegar, as well as plain and chilli infused olive oil. Served warm, a nice start.

I ordered pizza pollo picante, and though I was actually served a meatball pizza, there was nothing to complain about – it arrived spicy and blistering hot. The tomato sauce was sweet, toppings rich, and the all-important base, homemade and full of elasticity. Unfortunately it started to go soggy after 10minutes or so, but still, an impressive pizza, quite similar to Pizza Express.

Interestingly, the restaurant also offers “children or big kids” the chance to construct their own pizza at the table, an offer I’d find hard to pass up next time…

My partners “custom” pasta looked good (specifically parpadelle with veal meatballs) and while the meatballs requested were just the same that arrived on my pizza, they were still great, soaked in fresh pasta and a light tomato sauce – very basic but tasty.

As part of the Groupon voucher, we also received two cocktails. The menu calls it an
“extensive cocktail list”, and while they only really have classics on there, I sure they would be willing to whip something up. I ordered a bramble, classic fruit and gin. My partner commented that her el diablo (tequila, ginger) was a little strong- not always a bad thing! We could see that a lot of work went into mixing these – always a pleasure to watch.

The dessert menu was interesting and very attentively explained, so a “fruit platter
satisfied my sweet tooth; a mini sized trio of raspberry cheesecake, strawberry ice cream, and pear gateaux. The cheesecake was one of the best I’ve ever had, dainty or not – I’d suggest they serve this full-size.

Including an americano just before heading home stuffed only brought the bill to a reasonable £45, and the restaurant accepts Gourmet Society bookings on any day of the week, securing a return visit. So sad to see La Gabbia empty on an evening, while Pizza Hut et al are packed, get yourself down there folks.

Visited on Tuesday 12th April 2011 8:00PM.

Scores on the Doors? 4 Stars

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