Anima e Cuore, Kentish Town

Ox cheek ravioli with stracchino, Anima e Cuore Italian restaurant, Kentish Town

Ox cheek ravioli with stracchino (£9.50)

I went to university in Bologna for a year, and afterwards I could barely look at pasta, let alone eat it out of choice. Seven years on and I’ve nearly recovered, but am now a terrible pasta snob. Only the best will save me from reliving my days of incessant-carbohydrate-induced indigestion. Good job the pasta at Anima e Cuore is the real deal, then.

The restaurant itself is basic and awkward – bare tables, bright lights and no music make for a rather self-conscious eating experience – but the food, service and prices more than make up for that. One chef/waiter frantically did everything required to serve us in a manner not dissimilar to Manuel in Fawlty Towers, though with an air of reverence rather than panic, yelling orders back to the kitchen in Italian between our requests.

Every dish was tasty and most of them were excellent – the little rosemary baba wasn’t nearly as exciting as it sounded (or looked), but arancini filled with a rich beef ragu were extraordinarily good. The ox cheek ravioli were just a tiny bit undercooked, even for my al dente-favouring tastes, but their lovely filling, crisp sweet potato strips and creamy stracchino base were a delightful combination.

Fig cheesecake from Anima e Cuore, Italian restaurant, Kentish Town

Fig cheesecake (£4.50)

This part is very important: save room for dessert. The gelato is glorious and come in flavours even Willy Wonka wouldn’t have thought up, and their ricotta cheesecake is probably the best cheesecake I have eaten in London. To top all this off, it’s BYO, so we paid £22 each for three courses, a bottle of wine and a tip generous enough that our host waved it through the kitchen hatch delightedly. ‘Anima e Cuore’ means heart and soul, and there’s heaps of it in this place. I think I might even be able to eat their pasta twice in one week, which is a pretty big deal.

Anima e Cuore
★★★★✰   £££
129 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8PB, 0207 267 2410

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