Pizza Union, King’s Cross

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King’s Cross is booming with new food and beverage outlets. Pizza Union has just joined the crowd, an industrial style restaurant with neon lights and Italian tiled tables. Despite its recent opening the restaurant is already popular with locals. The Pizza Union team pride themselves on offering super speedy service and incredibly fresh food so it is an ideal lunch choice for those working nearby. I took along two of my most discerning foodie friends to try out the extensive pizza menu.

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We barely had time to say hello… Within 5 minutes of ordering, three delicious pizzas were in front of us and the prosecco was poured out. The 12 inch pizzas are thin-crusted and generously covered in the toppings of your choice. We tried a few different varieties, but it was the Calabria that we all fought over. A luxurious pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mascarpone, n’duja spicy sausage and rocket. It was a lovely combination of creamy cheese and spicy meat, topped with fresh peppery rocket leaves. If you are a meat fan, the pepperoni is also nice with a plentiful scattering of pepperoni. There are accompanying salads, should you desire a little extra greenery, and we also tried the indulgent sauces (creamy garlic is the best), which are ideal for dipping crusts into.

The staff were keen for us to try a pudding pizza. This consists of a warm dough ring filled with Nutella and mascarpone. As you cut the circuit a gooey creamy chocolatey interiors oozes out… we thought we were full, but obviously not as we were soon staring down at a clean empty plate. It is a delicious and simple dessert, but if you have had enough dough for the day opt for a pistachio or salted caramel gelato instead.

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Pizza Union is a cheap and cheerful venue to enjoy great pizza and prosecco, it was the perfect setting for a girl’s evening catching up.

More information about Pizza Union here: www.pizzaunion.com

New menu at Cucina Asellina, Strand

Tucked beneath the towering ME hotel, Cucina Asellina is a hotel restaurant with its own personality and character. The main open plan dining room radiates light and colour, it is a modern, fresh venue. Teetering on the edge of Covent Garden, the location is ideal for a pre or post theatre meal or as a sustenance break in between shopping stints.

The menu has recently been updated, dishes are now offered in small tapas style plates, so guests can mix and match or share a range of delights. We sat close to the kitchen, and sipped Bellinis while soaking up the buzzy atmosphere. Groups of friends and office outings are equally comfortable in this versatile restaurant.

Signature dishes use vibrant Italian ingredients cooked and presented in a rustic fashion. We tried a range of different dishes. Finely chopped zucchini coated in a light batter are a joy to pick at while enjoying an aperitif, I recommend ordering them as soon as you sit down, to ensure they arrive prior to the meal.

Veal meatballs are a favourite at Cucina Asselina, I enjoyed the dish though felt the veal could have been slightly better seasoned. The meat was served in a roast tomato sauce and topped with fresh basil and a sprinkling of parmesan, typical and delicious flavours of Italy that you would expect in a Mediterranean eatery. If you want to try a pizzette I would recommend the prosciutto San Daniele, black truffle, fontina and rocket. A light and crispy base topped with rich, indulgent flavours and scattered with fresh rocket. The sweet ham and peppery salad work well together, though the generous slices of black truffle and scented oil was a little overpowering for me.

Burrata with rosemary focaccia and grilled vegetables is a fresh vegetarian choice, ideal for cheese fanatics like me. If you fancy a heartier dish, opt for the honey-glazed rack of lamb with rosemary potatoes; although the lamb was slightly chewy the flavour was good and nicely paired with herby roast potatoes. The wine list in long with reasonably priced favourites from all over Italy. We chose a simple Pinot Grigio to go with our food.

The service had been swift and efficient throughout our meal until dessert, when a lack of communication led to a total absence of pudding and then the delivery of the wrong dish. We mourned the lack of chocolate tortini while nibbling the rather bland apple tart. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable meal.

More information and book a table here.

Murano, Mayfair

Angela Hartnett is, without a doubt, one of London’s most talented chefs. I absolutely loved Café Murano, her stylish Italian eatery in St James’, so I was very excited about trying the fine dining version, Murano, in Mayfair. Saving the opportunity for a special occasion, we visited with high expectations.

The rain outside was persistent and I was delighted to be inside with a glass of fizzy in my hand. The restaurant is decorated simply in subtle shades of cream and grey, with little character in the décor it feels distinctly corporate, which is disappointing considering the creativity in the kitchen. Located in the very heart of Mayfair, Murano is a hotspot for business meals and meetings. Every table around us seemed to be full of serious businessmen and women discussing important matters, whilst barely giving the food in front of them any attention. We relished the opportunity to flick through Angela Hartnett’s attractive cookbooks whilst nibbling on delicious homemade breads and arancini mouthfuls.

The seasonal menu offers a range of sophisticated dishes, from which guests can choose to have any number of courses, two for £50, three for £65 and so on. The menu is split into categories: pasta, meat, fish and the plate size can be adapted according to the menu choices the guest makes. We chose a pasta and meat dish each and shared a dessert. It is worth bearing in mind when you are choosing your food that the chef tends to send out little taster treats throughout so leave a bit of space.

The pasta dishes are the highlight at Murano. The very kind waiter delivered us three half-size portions: Hand rolled pappardelle, braised hare, Treviso, golden raisins; Carnaroli risotto, Parmigiano Reggiano, ceps; and Baked potato gnocchi, homemade coppa, curly kale. Beautifully presented in bright white bowls they looked as sensational as they tasted. My favourite was the delicately grilled gnocchi which was served with shards of salty parmesan, thinly sliced coppa meat and soft dark green kale to add colour and vitamins. The pappardelle is a great dish for those with a big appetite, coated in a rich meaty sauce sweetened with raisins and topped with copious amounts of grated parmesan.

For main course I tried the loin of venison, roasted Jerusalem artichokes, ceps, pears, and my guest devoured the crispy pork belly, celeriac purée, langoustine, grapes, kale tempura. The pork was particularly memorable, cooked to perfection and accompanied with satisfying crispy kale tempura. After a short pause we indulged with the fluffy soufflé.

Murano is evidence of Angela Hartnett’s resounding success on the restaurant scene, though if you are keen to try her magical pasta dishes I would recommend visiting Café Murano where the recipes are equally delicious and the prices are much more purse friendly.

More information and book a table at Murano here.