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If you’ve ever uttered the phrase ‘Let’s go for a quiet drink on Kingsland Road’ on a Saturday night, then you’ll know it’s a stupid thing to say. Every pub and bar within a mile of Dalston Junction is so rammed with cool kids discussing their portfolio careers that long straws in the drinks wouldn’t be a bad idea given the lack of elbow room.
The sheer foolhardiness of our plan hit us as we trudged past one overflowing watering hole after another on a recent Saturday evening.

We only ventured into Rotorino on the off-chance that a brand-new venue might be able to squeeze us in at the bar. Amazingly it did. The slickly designed space looks more like something you’d find in Soho than E8: booth seating, wood panelling and a clever mix of raw brick and striking blue patterned walls. The clientele are a little older than you’d expect to find in Dalston, and guess what? You can hear yourself speak. So we stayed a while, appreciating our Dolcetto d’Alba, as recommended to us by resident wine consultant Ruth Spivey from the Italian-focused list.

Even just a few weeks after opening, this collaboration between chef-restaurateur Stevie Parle (of the Dock Kitchen on Ladbroke Grove), Ruth Spivey (of pop-ups Wine Car Boot, and Street Vin Wine at Hawker House) and Jonathan Downey (of last year’s Rotary Bar and Diner pop-up), has a lot of polish. A return visit to eat didn’t disappoint.
Inspired by the food that Parle encountered in southern Italy, the menu features classics such as Sardinian fish stew (burrida) and Sicilian chickpea fritters (panelle). There’s also a handful of interesting pasta dishes including casarecce with a spicy sausage and red wine ragù, topped with crunchy fried breadcrumbs – a traditional, frugal alternative to parmesan.

A flash-cooked hanger steak, imbued with smokiness from the wood grill, was so tender the knife slid through it. Compared to the fiery ragù on our casarecce pasta, though, the accompanying chilli sauce could have done with more of a kick. Also from the grill, a Middle White pork chop was marinated in lemon leaf and zest with myrtle, then served perfectly charred on the outside, tender in the middle. Fried new potatoes with rosemary and garlic made a satisfying accompaniment.

Up there with some of the best modern Italian restaurants in London, Rotorino’s a great addition to any Dalston portfolio.

Venue name: Rotorino
Address: 432-434 Kingsland Road
E8 4AA
Opening hours: 5pm-midnight Mon-Fri; 11am-midnight Sat, Sun.
Transport: Dalston Junction Overground
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £75
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:2
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Luisa G

Bitterly disappointed. I'd heard good things about this place, and then I went. My main meal portion of pasta was finished in 5 spoonfuls. I was absolutely starving after, and the waitress told me that they'd been told to cut their portions down by half. I will not, ever, be going back again. 

Hayley J

The atmosphere really gets warmed up in this chic bar/restaurant around 8pm. The bar is a cool spot to have a couple of drinks and I had a yummy gin cocktail - recommended by the friendly bar tender. 

To start, I enjoyed the burrata, so so so creamy and so so yummy, and the sausage. Only small criticism is that the sausage portion could have been a bit bigger. For mains I had a perfectly cooked piece of chicken with truffle. DELICIOUS. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked. 

I love Rotorino, request a booth if you're going with a small group or take a crew and enjoy some delicious wine. You won't be disappointed! 

Jane H

Had a fantastic meal here today. Delicious panellle, gnudi and stuffed chicken. And really friendly attentive service. We are going back. It doesn't look too welcoming from the street but you step into another world when you get through the door.


Food and atmosphere was amazing and the staff was friendly, can't wait to go again!


Food and atmosphere was amazing and the staff was friendly, can't wait to go again!

Jimmy D

I have always trusted TimeOut for their great and useful restaurant reviews. However, when I found this place to take my girlfriend out for a birthday dinner, the waitress we had really let us down.

Initially the waitress was quite pushy for us to order wine before we had even chosen our food (we had literally just sat down), and when we finally did come to order wine, we asked if there was any cianti by the glass. To which the waitress replied, "do you want something like a cianti, or is that the only wine you know?". This was disturbingly rude.

Throughout the rest of our time there she never once asked how the food was (even when the main turned up cold), and even argued with a girl at the table next to us when she mentioned her main (the same as ours) was not cooked properly.

On top of which the restaurant had no music and the light above the booth table flickered so much it was hard to look across the table.

Jennifer H

Fantastic place - great food, great service and great atmosphere. Nicest meal I've had in a while!

Jamie K

Hidden behind those blinds is a fantastic restaurant with delicious food and cracking service, finally a grown up restaurant in Dalston.

Vanessa M

Absolutely delicious, great service, excellent wine list.  Will definitely be back!