Having had a huge hit with pizzeria Zia Lucia (which now boasts four branches across the capital), Italian-born pals Claudio and Gianluca have turned their hands to a different dough: the pasta kind.
Based next door to the original Zia Lucia on Holloway Road, Berto specialises in hearty (read: huge), hand-cut pasta dishes, with a smattering of antipasti and homemade desserts. Freshly made and rolled out daily in the open kitchen, there’s a plethora of pasta to pick from: traditional egg-and-flour, wholewheat, gluten-free, potato gnocchi, plus a vegan option.
And then there’s the choice of shapes and sauces: sprightly tagliatelle came slathered in a rich and pleasingly salty slow-cooked beef ragù. The cacio e pepe tonnarelli (chunky-looking spaghetti) was silky, wonderfully tangy and delivered a warm smack of pepper with each forkful. We also ordered a bowl of nutty, wholewheat fettucine tossed with lip-tingling ’nduja and shreds of fresh, creamy burrata. It was carb heaven. Extra brownie points go to our server for leaving a bowl of grated parmesan on the table (the usual measly sprinkling administered by waiters is never, ever enough).
Away from the pasta, a starter of deep-fried aubergine and beef polpettine (Italian-style croquetas) was not just juicy, but bursting with meaty flavour. In fact, the only flat note in the entire meal came from the vegetable fritti, which were bland, a little soggy and in need of a sauce to dip them into.
With its all-glass front and oversized skylight, Berto is a bright and airy spot, and the service is just as beaming. Clearly Claudio and Gianluca are on a roll.