A feature of the northern end of Columbia Road for more than a decade, this corner joint still pulls in the crowds through its cheerful atmosphere and generous, low-cost grub. The pine tables, scuffed wooden floors and primary coloured walls give the place the feel of an arty backpackers’ café circa 1990, while displays of local art reference the creativity of the surrounding area.
The food isn’t especially sophisticated, nor is it always Italian (feta and halloumi feature in several of the salads and pasta dishes), but if you’re looking for cheap and filling, you won’t go far wrong. Pizzas are the highlight, mainly due to their huge size. Though nothing to write home to mamma about – we found the bases quite bland – they’re tasty enough and varied, ranging from the classic (fiorentina, quattro formaggi) to the cross-cultural (the mexicana, with jalapeño chillies and minced beef).
Daily meat, fish and vegetarian specials are also available, and desserts are calorific (tiramisu, banoffi pie) but tasty. StringRay is normally heaving on Sunday lunchtimes; arrive early to grab a prime spot on the front terrace, from where you can watch plant-laden passers-by leaving the flower market.