Amongst the outlining rail sleeper shelves and bare bulbed lighting you can't help but feel you have been here before. Approaching its second year of drawing in the locals and those in search of an honest Italian meal, it may be the paper topped tables or those curved back wooden chairs that take me back. Whatever it is it works so well, but I guess it was always going to be a winning combination with head chef Tim Siadatan who has worked at British food institutions Moro and St. John, and Jordan Frieda roaming the front of house roost hailing from Petersham Nurseries.
The menu changes daily and is kept tight with four main sections; antipasti, oven and the pasta based primi and charcoal. The latter two are house specialities, all pasta is hand made daily by the chefs and the smell of the burning coals is distinctive to this little corner of Highbury. We started with some grilled squid with cannellini beans and lambs lettuce. The textures were delicate but punctuated, tender and sweet squid, creamy beans and curls of crunch from the lettuce. We also sampled the tagliarini with Amalfi lemon, marjoram and Parmesan which was incredible. Such simple flavours from the zest, juice, micro shavings but all bound together harmoniously by the velvety strands of pasta.
The mains carried on on the same good footing, from the grill was the mackerel with Castellccio lentils and salsa rossa, which would transport you straight to the side of Keith Floyd on one of his adventures across the Med. The other fish dish was plaice with a cool crunchy kohlrabi salad and drizzled with sweet shrimp nuggets, each component is very familiar but with together they are
I often cannot make my mind up between two starters so opt for having both as my main. This time I went for calves brain ravioli and a bitter salad. Having only ever eaten calves brains pan fried and on toast to use it as a filling intrigued me. Fried, the taste was not dissimilar to a refined, subtly flavoured egg but creamed then cushioned in between the pasta sheets it excelled. With only sage butter to dress the dish the spotlight was on the ravioli and it sang out softly yet defiantly. Being so rich the punchiness of the blood orange, radicchio and pomegranate sharpened everything up bringing a balance to the richness.
For desert we shared the amalfi lemon tart and the caramel panna cotta, fresh in the memory of making a vanilla one a couple of days before I wanted to try a "chefy" one. It wobbled naughtily and oozed a glorious smoked caramel. On the tongue it was just sublime, a fine texture of dreams as if every particle had been sieved within an inch of it's life. The tart was true to it's name, the filling had bite but carried buttery undertones that ran through to the base which mellowed prowess of the citrus.
The dishes at Trullo seem simple, but it is only so because of the quality of ingredients and skill of those at work that pull off such a flawless show. With surroundings so relaxed and comfortable I wish they could save me a little private table for whenever I fancy a little bite of light fresh tagliarini, to, ahem, start. Well at least it's only a ten minute cycle too, but any journey near or far must not be embarked on without a reservation as this place has been booked up continuously since opening a year and a half ago till now.