The arrival of 500 (Cinquecento) in 2008 marked a miracle for what even the most charitable would describe as the scrappier end of the Holloway Road. The stylish bare-table decor combined with a chef from the Jamie Oliver stable ensured a waiting list of weeks. Our most recent visit yielded hits and a couple of near misses. The Tagliere 500 starter (to share) was a stunning cornucopia of textures and tastes – including crabmeat, delicately crunchy, deep-fried ravioli with mint, and melt-in-the-mouth mozzarella – while a main course of fresh ravioli with ricotta and nettles sang all the right notes. Scallops on broccoli purée were plump and tasty, but the purée itself wasn’t concentrated enough to satisfy. And the restaurant’s much-praised baked rabbit in marsala wine sauce was tender and moist – and slightly too salty. There remains much to justify the excitement that endures around this culinary oasis in N19. Next to the traditional tiramisu and gelati, poached rhubarb with a scoop of apple sorbet made a fine end to the meal (even if the sorbet was a little more frozen than anticipated). Service was brisk and friendly throughout.
Fresh ingredients are prepared daily with loads of knowledge and a passion for food. Specialities include homemade bread, gnocchi and ravioli, with our menu changing seasonally to keep offering fresh and tasty ingredients.
500 Restaurant, named after the Fiat 500 (another little passion), will open with head chef Mario's cooking knowledge and experience gained in all these years of hard work among celebrity chefs. Fresh ingredients, bread and pastas prepared on the premises every day will be the key.
After just a few months, 500 has already built a substantial number of regular customers. The menu changes about five times a year, though Mario needs to keep some dishes coming back regularly, as some 'signature dishes' are requested even if they are not on the menu. The most asked for are the succulently and juicy oven baked rabbit, the fritto misto (a mixture of fresh seafood and vegetables deep fried), his 'soft as clouds' gnocchi, the pasta with Italian sausage ragu, and the pasta with slow-cooked beef in tomato and red wine sauce. They are to die for, as customers say. And then there's Mario's tiramisu...
Mario met Jamie Oliver at Passione restaurant, and had the opportunity to work at Fifteen - Jamie Oliver's restaurant. Mario worked here for two years, teaching Jamie's trainees how to prepare fresh pasta and bread. In 2008, he opened his own restaurant in partnership with Giorgio Pili.