I was feeling a little uninspired by the selection of restaurants in my corner of North West London, and wanted somewhere new for lunch. A small Italian restaurant, Ida, has been at the back of my mind for about 3 years to try now, it’s a little out of the way but I often end up going past it and being intrigued. Hence off we went.
Ida is in a very pretty corner shop towards the back end of Queen’s Park. We walked in to find a basic dining room with open kitchen and lots of vintage accoutrements adorning the walls. To my mind just what you want in a neighbourhood restaurant. Around 1/2 the 12 or so tables were full which was a good sign for a weekday lunchtime. That was probably helped by the lunchtime special, 1 course for £5.95 or 2 for £9.95 from a good selection of antipasti, primi, secondi and dessert. We ordered the ubiquitous Peroni (Moretti was also on offer) and they also had a blood orange Pellegrino drink which I hadn’t seen before.
We ended up opting for the normal a la carte since it sounded so good. First up was a shared classic starter, mozzarella with tomatoes and green beans. It was a large portion of mozzarella and tasty enough, it had developed a bit of a skin though and could have been fresher (or ideally home made). The green beans were still warm and it wasn’t a combination I had before, but I was pleased with it. At £8 it was quite heavily priced in my opinion, although the quantity made up for it.
Onto the main event, we were really here for Ida’s renowned pasta. One of the regional specials on offer was “guitar string” pasta with a classic tomato, garlic, basil and anchovy sauce (£7.50 for a small portion). Spaghetti in tomato sauce essentially, but one of those dishes that if done right can whisk you back to a backstreet restaurant in Naples. And it was done well, the hand-made pasta had just enough bite and a rough texture to the outside that gave it real character. The tomato and anchovy gave a gutsy rich umami hit to accompany the punch of garlic and chili. Simple, delicious and comforting, it felt like authentic Italian at its best.
I opted for another classic, tagliatelle al ragu (£10 main). Once again the hand-made pasta had the perfect bite and a touch of texture. The ragu sauce was deep and satisfying, a perfect comfort dish. It came with a sage bunch on top although I couldn’t detect any in the sauce which was a shame. Small complaint though, it was a great dish.
So, the pasta at Ida is incredible and certainly worth heading out for. It blows away any of the usual chains or slightly cheaper Italians that fill most high streets, with far more authentic and flavoursome simple dishes. A great neighbourhood restaurant, I’ll certainly be back.