We’re pretty dangerous people. You can probably tell. After all, we own two types of hot sauce, once attempted to cut a friend’s fringe in a moving vehicle, and sometimes we wait eight months between trips to the dentist. Don’t be intimidated, the Tabasco life chose us. But realistically, when it comes to eating out, danger is the last thing you want. Otherwise more people would bring snacks on rollercoasters. And less people would be eating at Lina Stores.
This retro pasta spot and Italian takeout deli is the restaurant equivalent of a safety belt. Ten minutes from King’s Cross station, this place is equal parts inoffensive, cute, and useful - especially if you happen to work nearby. In a room that looks like the innards of Wes Anderson’s skull, they’re serving the kind of Certified Nice Pasta™ that you’ll find at many of London’s other pasta specialist spots. A rondini seafood number. An old school pappardelle with a rich ragu. A simple butter and egg yolk tagliolini that you order to prove to your date that you really are a sapiosexual. They range from £6 to £14 per plate and for the most part, the portion sizes are that which you’d offer an eight-year-old, or yourself after living it large with the office biscuit jar at lunch. But order three and you won’t leave hungry.
Also on their cute-as-a-kitten mint green menu, you’ll find a few big meat and fish dishes that might distract you. ‘Oh, a whole roasted seabass to share, intriguing’ you’ll think, and worry about whether you should also add it to your order. Save your worry for more important things like climate change and whether your partner really did wait to watch the finale of The West Wing with you, because the simple answer is no. While a £6 box of takeout spinach and ricotta ravioli is the kind of sophisticated pasta that you’ll get all nostalgic for on a cold Monday afternoon, dishes like the greased-up grilled prawns and braised beef cheek taste like amateur hour. You’re here for pasta and pasta alone.
The Lina Stores look is pastel, candy striper’s dream meets La Dolce Vita theme park, with their handy take-out deli even decked out with hanging salumi, counters full of cheese, and glass jars packed to the rim with Italian sweets in shiny wrappers. Basically, it’s a charming, uniform mint green space where primary colours go to die and feels like the set of a rom-com with a tagline like they came for the linguine, but they stayed for love. Thanks to all the cheerful faux-retro touches, your catch up will feel far more Pinterest dreamboard than mutual Victoria line meet-up, and that meal with your parents will leave them debating a trip to Florence, or, at the very least, re-doing the kitchen. The only downside is that all that inoffensive charm makes Lina Stores popular, so book ahead. Just to be safe.
If you live or work near King’s Cross, this is for you. If you don’t, well, let that envy sink in or start pressuring your boss to move WeWorks, because this £7, proper doorstop of a sandwich from their takeout deli makes for a great lunch. 9/10 focaccia.
Our favourite pasta here. Hello chilli, hello lamb sausage, hello rubbing our bellies in a very self-satisfied manner.
Pumpkin party sounds like a truly terrible organic retreat that’s sponsored by Starbucks and the gods of autumn, but it’s actually how we’d describe this ravioli. It’s light enough, and with just the right amount of sweetness.
A double ravioli stuffed with salted ricotta, artichoke, and parmesan. Arguably not as enjoyable as witnessing your favourite 90s celebrities in matching denim numbers, but still, a decent double-the-trouble number.
When you hear ‘30 egg yolks’ you might instantly think of either your fertility or that time the older kids in your neighbourhood egged your family’s Citroen Saxo. Bleak. Instead, think of this excellent tagliolini. It’s got all the classic swag of a cacio e pepe, with plenty of added egg. Just be sure to eat it fast or it’ll turn distinctly omelette.
This crab and scallop packed rondini is a great seafood situation. Just be aware that even if you’re really down with the concept of small plates, you’ll find yourself staging a classic piece of performance art we like to call Where’s The Rest Of It? A minimal portion for £12.
We like to think of a good meaty pappardelle as the ‘girl next door’ of the carbohydrate world. There will always be one close by. You’ll inevitably fancy them. And if they’re particularly special, you very well might find a bunch of excuses to see them again. This ox tail ragu take isn’t the best we’ve tried, but it’s definitely worth an order.
The kind of sad, unseasoned prawns that would probably make Bubba from Forrest Gump throw a hissy fit. Pass.
If you want to get anything from the carne and pesce section of the menu - maybe you’re iron deficient or looking to experiment, you know, like you did at university - then get this braised beef cheek. Don’t expect more than a pretty standard offering though.
Your order here: pasta, pasta, pasta, pasta, this tiramisu. Is this one of the best haikus ever written? Maybe. Definitely. Yes.