Walking down a quiet Victorian terraced street in Queens Park, North-West London, I approach one of my new favourite Italian resturants in the city, the wonderful Ida. With a bright sage coloured exterior and white netted windows, you step into one of the most homely and cosiest resturants I know in London.
Owned by husband and wife team, Avi and Simonetta who both have Italian roots in Tuscany and Le Marche, Ida opened in 2007 with neither of them having any restaurant experience. What they did have was a true love and talent for Italian home cooking which they wanted to share with locals and food lovers. During the first couple of years of Ida opening, business proved successful, taking bookings every night and was even frequented by a few celebrities. However, like many small businesses (including my dad’s Italian deli) the recession started to take its toll and overtime business started to get quieter. However, Avi, Simonetta and family persevered through all the hard times and in 2014 Ida was awarded Time outs ‘Best local restaurant’ which was an amazing triumph.
Named after Avi’s mother, Ida, who taught him to cook, the restaurant is open 6 days a week (closed on Sundays) and the team prides themselves on serving customers home made meals rather than over thought pretentious dishes which I feel has become the norm amongst a few new London Italian eateries. The flavours and smells do all the talking here – that’s all that matters.
The first time I came across Ida, was when I attended an evening hosted by Taste film, (a monthly experience that pairs a classic film screening, while the audience enjoys a menu inspired by the film). Goodfellas, one of my all time favourite films had been selected and the guys at Ida cooked up a 4 course menu that I haven’t been able to forget. I remember the most delicious plate of beef meatballs and pasta placed in front of me, during the unforgettable prison/cooking scene of all time. The menu was stunning and ever since I have been looking for an excuse to trek back over from South East London to experience another meal.
So my chance came when a good friend of mine, Tally, who I hadn’t seen for a while wanted to catch up. Coincidentally she only lives a 5 minute drive away from the restaurant so I suggested Ida. We had such a fun evening catching up, but it was made even better with all the amazing food and service we had all evening.
To start, Tally and I perused the Italian cocktail menu and selected a couple of Aperol Spritz to start the evening meal.
For our antipasti, we opted for the MOLINATA – a Puglian broad bean and spinach dip. I have to say that this was one of my highlights of the meal. An amazing combination of flavours with a slight chilli kick. At only £6, I seriously recommend you order a bowl (or two) to share as a perfect way to start your meal.
Next, came the pasta course. Now, one of the things that Ida also prides themselves on is their home made fresh pasta which is all hand rolled – no pasta machines here, but just a long rolling pin. This is a serious art form when it comes to cooking. You need a lot of love and plenty of patience to execute this perfectly. The rough texture of the pasta actually helps to absorb the sauce better giving you an even better eating experience. We ordered the home made tagliatelle with ‘Frijarelli’ – which are Neapolitan wild turnip tops cooked in chilli and tomatoes. We also chose the bucatini alla puttanesca, a really rich tomato sauce with anchovies, olives and capers. A personal favourite of mine. I hadn’t realised until after our plates were cleared, that we had only ordered vegetarian dishes. I can definitely say that the meat was not missed. To note, Ida do a fantastic Monday-Wednesday deal where you can order a bowl of pasta and glass of wine for only £10. With flavours like these going on, what a friggin bargain!!
For our mains, we ordered a whole roasted sea bass that had been filletted and topped with thin crispy shaved potato slices. This may sound simple, but sometimes a great main is about keeping things simple and letting the flavours work.
Finally, we decided we could not go home without ending our gorgeous meal with a slice of home made tiramisu served with 2 spoons. Just looking at the picture now, reminds me how creamy and light it was. The prefect way to end the meal and trust me I eat a lot of Tiramisu!!
I wish I lived closer to Ida so I could enjoy meals there more regularly. Every dish was faultless and beautifully cooked and seasoned. Anyone who knows me, knows that when it comes to Italian food I can be harsh critic. However, those thoughts never crossed my mind as I enjoyed every dish, drink and the service. Amazing value for money too. Two of us shared four generous courses with a couple of drinks each and the bill came to £70 (£35 each, including tip). Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many places in London where you can eat that well at those prices. It’s an Italian food lovers dream and I do dream alot about food haha!
Ida Restaurant (nearest tube station, Queens Park)
167 Fifth Avenue, Queens Park, London, W10 4DT
Tel: 0208 969 9853