(by the Munching Mariner, published East End Life, 13 February 2011)
My Thirst Mate and I wanted a treat. So we set off for some Italian comfort food at La Forchetta. It was 7.30 when we arrived and there were four tables already occupied. On a Sunday evening, we read this as a good omen.
La Forchetta is a large restaurant, stretching way back from the modest frontage. The décor is dated, but uncannily authentic. A wooden boat in Italian colours, suspended from the ceiling, seems simply to ‘belong’.
We were given a choice of tables among the other diners near the bar. A dish of complementary olives was brought to our table, along with the menus. On offer was a veritable multitude of dishes: pizzas, pastas and a range of mains. I was overwhelmed.
We ordered drinks: tap water for us both, lemonade for my Thirst Mate and a palatable house red for me. Then we settled down to choose our food.
My Thirst Mate ordered some crostone, similar to bruschetta but topped with anchovies, tomato and rocket. My bresaola came with sliced parmesan cheese, plenty of meat and a mountain of rocket so impressive I doubted my capacity to eat it. Both dishes were beautifully presented. And I eventually managed to devour the rocket.
For our main course, my Thirst Mate chose a chicken and asparagus risotto. It was generously portioned and she was pleased with the aparagus, cooked to perfection.
I opted for the saltimbocca alla romano. This was essentially veal wrapped in parma ham and accompanied with winter vegetables and new potatoes. My only complaint was that the vegetables seemed a little overcooked, but the rest was excellent.
We ordered a single tiramisu with two spoons and enjoyed it thoroughly. Like the rest of our food, it was generously served, so at this stage we were more than happy to share!
The Italian waitresses were friendly and helpful and as the restaurant packed out we noted Italian voices from three neighbouring tables. Such an endorsement was no surprise to us as we enjoyed our meal so much.
Our bill came to £46, including service. Lunch deals are available for as little as £6.90 per person.
La Forchetta is two minutes away from the tube station at 464 Bethnal Green Road E2 0EA. Telephone 020 7739 9467.