I’d been curious about Luigi’s, on Goldhurst Terrace, near Finchley Road tube station, for a while, so when Jonathan suggested it after I told him saying my brain had (again) malfunctioned and I couldn’t decide where to go for dinner, everything fell nicely into place.
After an apparently austere greeting, which made me wonder if I looked a bit of a yob with headphones tangled round my neck and even scruffier attire than usual (in fact, staff were warm, friendly, and reassuringly Italian), some simple white bread and pleasingly garlicky olives appeared (as did a £2 cover charge later, but as the added-on service charge was only 10%, that seemed OK), along with the sort of menu I really appreciate – simple, yet varied enough, without being confusing, and lots of things I wanted to eat, immediately.
Opting for the Chianti proved a wise choice; it was excellent, and I could have happily tanned two bottles of the stuff had I not had an important function on the next day (an evening of console gaming with nephew Sebastian, who, it transpires, seems to be following in my footsteps having been a bit ill after enjoying some very high strength Belgian beers).
Orders on adjacent tables (seemingly taken by happy locals – a good sign) looked wonderful, with colourful pasta, king-size portions, and plenty of seafood. Accordingly, I ordered swordfish livornese, and very nice it was, too. A satisfyingly savoury, orange-red sauce with cherry tomatoes, capers and olives bathed a mighty slab of swordfish, which I didn’t mind being a touch well-done at the edges as it negated the memory of my last experience of this fish, which was horribly undercooked elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
Special mention for vegetables, which were presented, and clearly cooked, with care. Neatly cut courgettes, carrot batons green beans and broccoli were right on the button of al-dente, and the little roast potatoes, whilst not super-crispy, were lovely all the same.
Seafood linguine was also a success, with a sauce just coating the pasta in the Italian way, and a touch of sweetness and spice, perhaps from nutmeg (says he, with a palate sensitivity level which can barely differentiate a lemon from a lamb chop – especially after a few reds).
Luigi’s food was wholesome, traditional, and (cliché alert) rustic. It made me smile in a happily stupid way. To sum up more succinctly; I’m planning on going back soon. And not just for the Chianti – though that will likely play a significant part in proceedings too.