The food there is definitely fast; and there is a rather large selection of burgers; but fortunately it’s also pretty good.
I need to learn to read things properly. When I was invited to check out Caterina55, I assumed it would be formal. Perhaps it was the City location; perhaps it was the promise of Lugurian (North West Italian) cooking; or perhaps I wasn’t thinking. After all, a strapline of ‘casual and affordable Italian cooking around the clock’ sets out its stall clearly enough. And a menu that offers early-risers an array of pastries, muffins and pancakes, or Italian-style sandwiches, salads and hearty soups for lunch sounds like it’s very much in the Pret a Manger space.
But Caterina55 is different. It probably has designs on the category occupied by Canteen, Giraffe and Pizza Express. And what separates those category leaders from fast food restaurants, and something what Caterina55 seeks to emulate, is the quality of their food.
It was quiet on a Wednesday night in the City; in part I’m sure because it’s located off the beaten track away from the cluster of bars and food outlets around CityPoint. The lack of customers didn’t do it many favours. ‘It’s like walking into an office canteen. Or an upmarket McDonalds’ said my friend. Nevertheless, after establishing that we ordered ‘fast food’ style at the counter we took a seat near the window.
The food there is definitely fast; and there is a rather large selection of burgers; but fortunately it’s also pretty good. The signature panissa fries, made using chickpea flour, are superbly moreish. And apparently they’re a healthy option. The aioli squid was very tasty and as with the fries, served as a very hearty portion. The lasagne classiche I tried for a main was fine, but was definitely straying into fast food territory. The Rigatone All’Amatriciana, or Homemade Rigatoni pasta with crispy pancetta and homemade tomato sauce, was again okay. But nothing more. The tiramisu was rich and full of big flavours – perhaps a little too sweet for my palate, but that’s a minor criticism. The berry and cinnamon tart was a little on the dry side but tasty enough.
But as my friend and I agreed, I needed to remember what I was judging Caterina55 against. Compared to your typical City Italian restaurant it struggles. But compared to its category group, Cantina55 does well. It’s casual and affordable. Just like it says on the box.
On a scale of * to *****
Serving and Pouring ****
Wining and Dining ***
Flirting and Partying **
Address: The Heron, 5 Moor Lane, London EC2Y 9AP, United Kingdom
Opening Times: Monday – Sunday, 7am – 11pm