Anima e Cuore

Restaurants, Italian Camden Town
116 Love It
Save it
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling
© Tricia de Courcy Ling

NOTE: Since this review was published, Anima e Cuore has become immensely popular. If you are thinking of going for dinner, especially at weekends, booking well in advance is essential. The Time Out Eating and Drinking Editors


From the outside, Anima e Cuore appears to be a gelateria and café. But the tiny restaurant at the back (22 covers only) serves – at very low prices – Italian food that can stand comparison with the best in the capital.

This stretch of Kentish Town Road has had an influx of high-quality eating and drinking places, but it is still not a place where you’d expect to find cooking of this quality. And the restaurant itself looks unimpressive, with essentially non-existent decor and an amateurishly presented menu. But some extraordinary food makes you forget everything else.

Daily specials of ravioli are a key feature here, and we ordered both. One filled the silky pasta with baccalà (salt cod) and accompanied it with a perfect rendition of the Venetian classic ‘sarde in saor’, fried sardines in a vinegar-based marinade. In another, the filling was three cheeses and the sauce a light but flavourful duck ragù. These were as good as any pasta dishes I’ve tasted. Anywhere.

There is a fish and a meat special every day. When we visited the meat was shredded ox cheek, cooked sous vide (sealed in a plastic pouch and poached in a water bath for 48 hours), on a bed of creamy, cheesy white polenta. This was one of those dishes that make you dread the moment when the plate is empty.

Save room for dessert. The own-made ice creams and sorbets are of exceptional quality; try the chocolate or banana sorbet and the hazelnut, vanilla or pistachio ice cream. Baked goods are equally distinguished, especially a chocolate tart of thrilling intensity. Each dessert is served with a flavour-complementary ice cream.

Anima e Cuore is BYOB – and there’s a good Oddbins five minutes up the road. For the food, three of us spent £69 before service. Yes, £69 for 3 courses. You could spend that at a very ordinary neighbourhood trattoria. 

Three caveats must be noted. One: the numerous daily specials have to be laboriously explained and are hard to remember; the restaurant needs a blackboard. Two: I have no experience of eating here when it’s rammed (locals already know how good it is). Three: don’t expect mega-comfort or ambiance; it’s all about the food here.

Between them, proprietors Mustapha Mouflih and Alessandro Altoni have worked at restaurants including The Ledbury, L’Anima, Sketch and Le Gavroche. It shows. Anima e Cuore means heart and soul, and the owners have clearly thrown theirs into the restaurant. Ignore the setting. Anima e Cuore may be diminutive in size, but it’s a giant when it comes to quality.


By: Richard Ehrlich


Venue name: Anima e Cuore
Address: 129 Kentish Town Rd
Opening hours: Tue-Wed 7-9pm; Thur-Sat noon-2.30pm, 7-9pm; Sun noon-2.30pm
Transport: Tube: Kentish Town
Do you own this business?
To improve this listing email:

You may be interested in:

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
2 people listening

This is a real hidden gem that deserves all the praise. From the outside it doesn't look like much and you question what sort of night you're in for. But as soon as you sit down and given a personal walk through all the items on the menu - which at first was weird, but turned into an incredible tale of Italian cuisine - you know you're in for a special treat. Full disclosure, and I know this will sound strange to many, but I'm not the biggest fan of pasta. But very quickly during the spoken-word performance of the menu, I realised that this might be the place to be a born-again pasta eater. I ordered the soft shell crab starter which was a pleasant beginner, followed by the duck breast with pistachio mash - a real moment of haute cuisine - but it was a sampling of my friend's lamb shank ravioli that transported me to another plain. I could taste colours! A genuine "When Harry Met Sally" moment. We had a sharer tagliatelle with shaved truffles which was the piece to convert this non-pasta eater. With the ravioli also still in sight I will most definitely be making a return. With the food being as exquisite as it is, and the service is endearingly attentive and adds to the experience, the only thing letting this place down is the environment itself. Obviously the priority is on the food than the physical restaurant which isn't awful but the kitchen could do with better extractor fans as the smell of cooking was a bit overpowering and attached itself to our clothes. I like eating the food, not smelling like it. A pre warning that card payments aren't accepted would've also been a good heads up, but overall, I'll most definitely be visiting again. I need that lamb shank ravioli in my life more often.

Spectacular food and spectacular value. There is now an al fresco space at the back (not sure if this is new) and while it is normally a challenge to get a reservation, was lucky enough to get a walk-in table for two on a recent visit, so it's worth trying your luck. Service is just as phenomenal as the food, and the bill, when it arrives, provides the opposite of sticker shock - it is insanely good value considering the quality of the food.


We booked a table here about 3 weeks in advance so after a long wait I was curious to see if the reviews below were accurate! This restaurant is so unassuming - walking in, it looked like a tiny cafe and everything seemed a bit disorganised as they had only just opened (it's only open on the evening from 6-10). We were talked through the menu (as it is genuinely in Italian) by the waitress and opted to share a few starters and mains so we could try multiple things. When the first dishes came out, we were amazed! The presentation was insanely creative and impressive - so unexpected! And once we tucked in, we realised that the taste was on par with appearance. For me, the highlight was the Ossobuco, which is ravioli stuffed with slow cooked veal. It was probably the best pasta dish I've ever had! We finished the meal with gorgeous gelato, and actually had to be rushed a little as we had stayed well over our 2 hour sitting! The staff were super friendly and clearly pleased at how impressed we were. We will definitely be going back here, I think I may even become a regular...


Probably the most authentic Italian restaurant I have visited in London! I have tried to book at this restaurant on a few occasions, but they have always been booked out for weeks, so I had given up. However on this spontaneous Thursday evening, I phoned and asked if they had had any cancellations. The owner answered his mobile phone, and told me he was at the shops getting some fish, but would phone me back. He phoned me a few minutes later and told me that there had been no cancellations, but that if we arrived around 8.30-9pm, we might be able to get a table. He even offered to phone me back later and let me know how busy it was, but I told him we were in the area anyway so would just drop in. 

We arrived around 8.30pm and luckily a table for two had just become available. As others have said, the restaurant is not very pretty to look at from the outside, or even really inside, but it feels authentic and the food is fabulous. The owner was incredibly friendly, remembering the phone call from earlier, and taking the time to go through the whole menu on the blackboard with us. 

We shared two starters (a version of gnocchi, and a rabbit and aubergine dish) followed by two mains (tagliolini with black truffle, and tagliatelle with venison and chocolate), and finishing with two desserts (a chocolate cake and an apple and almond cake). The food tasted incredibly fresh and the flavours were well balanced. And best of all, it's BYO! The total bill came to £55, very reasonable for a 3 course meal for two people.

This place is a real gem. I hope I am lucky enough to score a table on another night!

Staff Writer

This place really doesn't look much from the outside, or the inside for that matter, but the staff are lovely and the food is definitely authentic. The extensive menu is on a blackboard and as noted by another reviewer, dishes aren't individually priced - but we went for the 3 course £25 menu. The portion sizes are pretty small, and while the food was lovely, I wasn't blown away. 

Die echte italienische Küche war überragend und schmeckte sehr gut. Dafür 5 Sterne. Die Portionen hätten etwas größer sein können und es waren keine Preise auf der Karte. Dafür habe ich einen Stern abgezogen. Neben dem Essen waren die freundlichen und hübschen Bedienungen ein Genuss.


So we arrived with a bottle of Prosecco to share between two of us, and I spotted that the rest of the restaurant had opted for a bottle of red each - I love how much London takes advantage of BYOB. Anyway, the waiter automatically swapped our glasses for champagne flutes and brought over some delicious complementary bread to share (the way to my heart). 

After the absolute task of ordering food off the non existent menu (the waiter reels off about 100 choices for starter and main and you're expecting to REMEMBER these, a glass of Prosecco down), we decided to share starter and dessert and also each other's main. The starter consisted of a stracciatella cheese fondu inside of a "courgette" (which was definitely another kind of squash) with rabbit. This was so indulgently rich so perfect for sharing. Most of the mains featured an exotic take on pasta and we went for fettuccine with duck and a fish plate - I obviously asked for more focaccia to mop this up which we weren't charged for. My highlight was the dessert, a mega moist fig cake. This all said, I'm probably making recommendations that don't even exist anymore as they change the imaginary menu each week. My advice would be to be adventurous and don't expect to pick up your alcohol from a Tesco's nearby to by your wine. The offy next door is obviously capitalising on extortionate bottles of cheap wine and Prosecco - it probably would have cost the same amount to pay for drinks in the restaurant!

Uh-oh, no prices on the menu …

Encouraged by the gashing reviews in Time Out and by previous visitors, we decided to give Anima e Cuore a go but our experience was somewhat different, and highly disappointing. Be it change of management or of business model, when we arrived for a light Saturday lunch we were presented with a menu without prices, which should have been a first warning sign. In the manner of grander establishements we were then taken through the menu, and only when asking, given the prices.

It turned out that prices for starters ranged between £8.50 and £10, and mains, mostly pasta dishes, between £14.50 and £20 – which I would certainly not rate in the category “cheap”. The food, which we never tasted, may be delicious and of high quality, but they really should advertise prices outside or on the menu, and spare the wrong target audience a visit.

The not-as-great end of Kentish Town is quickly becoming a contender for the greatest end of NW5. Not least because of places like this little gem. I've walked past Amina e Cuore a few times and note batted an eyelid. It looks like an ice-cream parlour with questionable/non-existent decor. But more and more people have been talking about it. And Time Out themselves have been raving about it. So, an outgoing colleague and I thought we'd give it a go at lunchtime for her farewell. Walking in, it really doesn't look up to much - it's pretty bare (apart from the hubbub going on behind the counter and in the kitchen) and there's not a menu in sight. The (charming and handsome) waiter comes up to you and recites the daily offerings off a printed and repeatedly folded sheet of A4 paper. And everything sounds delicious. To start, we shared tomato-soaked stale bread topped with sharp and tangy burrata and spinach "gnocchi-style things that aren't gnocchi" in a sage butter emulsion - light as air and delicate tasting. For mains, my colleague had rich octopus black spaghetti and I had the unctuous, soft and silky seafood pasta (pictured). Homemade pasta. You really can't go wrong. Dessert was a tiramisu - pillowy-soft, a good hit of caffeine and perfectly balanced layers. This place is good. Very good, in fact. At £27.50 per head for three courses and a very full belly, I'd say that's a good deal. Five stars minus one, for lack of effort on the interior design-front. Sort that out and you're onto a winner.