Saturday, 23 April 2016

Mister Lasagna Restaurant Launch

Pasta is a simple but wonderful indulgence. I love how comforting it is, like a cuddle on a plate. I am fond of fresh, dried, long, short, stuffed and saucy pasta. I often joke that I have never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like (a stolen joke, the provenance I can no longer remember), which particularly applies to pasta!

LASAGNA. See that spelling? It’s the original Italian way. “Lasagne” is an Anglicised version, in the same way as “bolognaise” is an English corruption of “Bolognese”. Sorry to be pernickety, but pasta is a very serious business! So let’s start getting it right!

Lasagna is a classic, hearty pasta dish which I adore, but confess make rarely at home. It seems too much of a mission to make two sauces only to face the assembly of the layers and final baking. Facing 3 hours of preparing, cooking and waiting, I end up going through the stages of slight food craving pangs, full on tummy rumbles, crippling hunger only to find I can’t bring myself to eat.

It would be a dish I would eat when out and about more often, but lasagna has often been messed around with. Inferior quality meat, lack of care when making the ragu/Bolognese sauce, cheap cheese toppings…. Bad lasagna is an insult to a great dish.

I was invited to the launch party of Mister Lasagna, the dream turned reality of Alessandro Limone. He wants to bring real, authentic lasagna to London. Lasagna like his “Nonna”, his grandmother, used to make for him, back in Naples, Southern Italy.

The idea of Mister Lasagna is to specialise solely in Lasagna. Eight (yes, eight!) regular varieties will be available with two specials each day. In all, a whopping 21 varieties will be cooked up for fellow pasta lovers! My much beloved Bolognese lasagna with béchamel sauce is obviously on the menu. A stone cold classic. Mister Lasagna’s classic Bolognese lasagna is very generous on meaty sauce, which has been cooked for ages and ages. Thankfully not swimming in béchamel sauce, this is just the way I like it. Browned nicely on top, this is super comfort food!

Some unfamiliar types will be available for you to discover; ham and cheese; pesto; vegetable; creamy carbonara; sophisticated mushroom; a “Quattro Formaggio” or Four cheese lasagna (blue cheese, feta, brie, and cheddar); Napoletana (meatballs, egg, Bolognese, ricotta and béchamel).

For fans of unpredictability and surprises, the “Special” lasagnas will reflect some of the great produce of Italy or depend on the season. Expect truffle, pumpkin, chicken and chorizo, aubergine, artichoke, courgette, vegetable, cherry tomato and basil, mashed potato and egg, smoked salmon, spinach, onion and spicy tomato sauce. More than just a one trick pony!

I was pleased to see that vegetarians do not miss out. The spinach lasagna had a thick, soft layer of spinach at the bottom, cooked with the merest touch of slipperiness. Thinner layers followed in between the pasta sheets. The topping of mozzarella and a dusting of parmesan brought flavour and richness. The aubergine lasagna had a herby tomato sauce coating the pasta and aubergine chunks, tasting authentically Neapolitan. 

The pumpkin lasagna was creamy and rich. It could have done with a little more pumpkin, if I am honest, but perhaps the sauce to filling to pasta ratio I was served is the typically Neapolitan way. A little bit of sage would have added to the flavour, too.

A regular portion of Lasagna will cost £5.90 to eat in, £5.30 to takeaway. If the full portion seems too big, or you want to keep space for puddings, a half portion is £3.50. Most interesting is the option for either the glutton or the indecisive person; a trio of lasagna £7.89 (made up of three half portions)! A great way to try the variations of lasagna available!

Diners will be able to have their lasagna with sauce. The choices are Bolognese, béchamel, mushroom, four cheese or tomato. I didn’t opt for sauce, because I wanted to see how well the lasagna spoke for itself. 

My conclusion is that we have some great old fashioned home style cooking, which I mean in the nicest possible way. This is food made with love to warm, comfort and cosset. Perfect for when you’ve had a bad day at work, or lunch on a Monday, or when you want to meet with friends for a quick bite to eat before heading out for a night on the town.

If you are still hungry after a big, satisfying slice of lasagna, you might want afters. Cute little homemade cupcakes are available for a very reasonable £1.50. 

In addition there is the quintessential tiramisu, or a caramel panna cotta or a white chocolate soufflé. The tiramisu (£3.50) is creamy, with a humane rather than overwhelming hit of coffee. The layers are beautiful, and I confess to having had more than one helping!

Mister Lasagna will be an all-day restaurant, serving coffee, sweet pastries and traditional Italian savoury tarts in the morning, with the lasagna making its appearance from lunchtime.

Whilst you can take your food away for lunch “al desko”, you can have lunch or dinner inside, with a cheeky beer or glass of wine. Selected spirits will also be available. The back of the premises is a proper restaurant with 40 seats. Some are tables for couples and small groups, but there is a big communal table for people who want to get friendly.

If you love all things food and drink Italia, you will be able to stock up on supplies. There will be pasta, sauces and a selection of Italian liqueurs available to buy.

Mister Lasagna opened on 20 April 2016. I think it is a fun, informal place for easy going food. If only it were within walking distance of my workplace, as it would be perfect for a lunchtime treat!

Mister Lasagna
53 Rupert Street

Snigdha would like to thank the owners of Mister Lasagna for inviting her. Snigdha has received no incentive for writing this review. 

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