A new opening in Marylebone Lane for Soho’s iconic Italian, Lina Stores.
Words by Pendle Harte
Lina Stores first opened in Brewer Street in 1944 and became a Soho icon, supplying Italian meats, cheeses and deli products to the folk of W1. 75 years later they opened a restaurant in nearby Greek Street, serving fresh homemade pasta and hearty Italian family favourites to a loyal crowd. Now they’ve opened a fifth site in Marylebone Lane, an impressive corner site with windows on all sides and the trademark green and white striped awnings. It feels very European, with stylish Art Deco lighting, bentwood chairs and a busy, brasserie vibe.
Staff are speedy, friendly and efficient and the menu is appealing with its mix of aperitivo, antipasti, pasta and secondi. It’s still a bit unusual to have a female head chef, but Masha Rener runs a calm team and even finds time to talk to guests about her pasta. We kick off with lovely cherry bellinis and starters of fried artichokes and burrata with courgette, both excellent. Next up was the famed pasta, and we go for linguine with crab and black pepper, which, we’re warned, is served at 65 degrees, so not quite hot. It’s very good – heavy on the black pepper and laced with sweet and juicy crab meat.
Continuing the seafood theme with Casarecce alla Calabrese, these small pasta discs with prawns, chilli and tomato are excellent, and an accompanying green salad is full of freshness and delicious dressing. We were too full for Secondi – though the grilled prawns were tempting – and also too full for pudding, but we tried some anyway. Chocolate mousse with salted caramel was as good as you’d expect, while Zuppa Inglese – a berry-heavy Italian trifle dish – was creamy and decadent. Sensing our defeat, a lovely waiter appeared with shot glasses of iced digestivs, which delivered instant revival, just what we needed. Long live Lina Stores’ continuing expansion.