The best thing about this Hackney Wick Italian is its canal-side position. With the doors flung open on summer evenings, it almost feels like you’re dining in Amsterdam. Not quite Italy, but we’ll take it. The eye doesn’t focus out the window though, given that a loud, graffiti-style mural takes up one wall on the inside. Maybe Gotto is trying to prove it’s street enough to be setting up shop in the Wick, since the people behind this restaurant also operate the slick Italian eaterie Mele e Pere in Soho.
Mele e Pere impresses most with its vermouth selection, and while that vast library isn’t replicated at Gotto, they do recommend a red or white aperitivo to kick off the evening or to pair with small plates. We happily tucked into a liquid-y burrata and a plate of bombette (pork and pancetta wrapped around cacio cheese), which offered little salty mouthfuls with springy meat. Simple main dishes didn’t bring the same excitement to our table, although they were well executed, particularly a whole sea bass fresh with lemon and Italian herbs. The tortellini had excellent bite and a delicate courgette flower filling, but the sauce on the top and a shower of black truffle made it overpoweringly rich.
Is Gotto your go-to Italian in Hackney? Probably not. But it’s bringing a bit of chic to a neighbourhood that’s rapidly changing, and although dinner didn’t rock my world, I’d quite happily return for a bombette and vermouth beside the canal.