La Figa

By the Munching Mariner (published East End Life, 12 June 2011)

“That meat is perfection” – My Thirst Mate favoured my own dish to hers, but we were both very happy with our food at La Figa.

I’d finished work late, so it was 9pm before we arrived at the restaurant. It was a Tuesday evening and the place was buzzing. My Thirst Mate immediately identified a dessert she wanted later, so we opened with a basket of garlic pizza to share and checked out the rest of the menu.

The garlic pizza was a generous portion and included tomato and herbs; very appetising. There was a large range of other pizzas and pastas available, but we both settled on a meat dish.

My Thirst Mate ordered Pollo La Figa, a portion of chicken wrapped up in a parcel of breadcrumbs along with spinach and mozzarella. It was unusual, and evidently exclusive to the restaurant. The elements work well together and even better alongside the sautéed potatoes and salad served with both our meals.

My own choice was Filletto di Manzo al Pepe Verde; cooked medium. We always share a bite of each other’s dishes, but despite my Thirst Mate’s spoken enthusiasm for my food, I kept most of it to myself. This dish was very thick cut fillet steak soaked in green pepper sauce. It was one of the pricier items from the specials menu but worth a rare treat.

I washed it down with a glass of Montepulciano as recommended by our waitress.

It was getting late by the time we ordered our desserts, but these were worth staying for. My Thirst Mate had Tiramisu, and for me, Crème Brûlée. The Tiramisu was light, fluffy and not too rich. My Crème Brûlée, not an easy one to get right, was also well composed.

The service was proficient and friendly, seemingly mostly Italian. The restaurant itself was bright and spacious, majoring on red and yellow pastels.

Our bill came to £73.65 including two glasses of wine and two soft drinks, but excluding service. This is more than we’d normally spend, but it’s hard to fault the food or the overall experience.

La Figa is at The Mosaic Building, off Narrow Street, E14 8DN. Telephone 020 7790 0077.

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La Forchetta

(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’.

La Forchetta

Authentic Italian food in Bethnal Green

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.

Restaurant & Pizzeria

Plenty aside from pizza on the menu

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.