The right sort of oil is used in the right place: a lighter one for the fried wild mushrooms, a more robust, fruity sort on the lentils.
Fresh garlic scented the bruschetta and an earthier drier note surfaced in the spag bol.
La Rugoletta is just the sort of place I started this blog to showcase.
In an area of undistinguished eateries, it sits unobtrusively on a residential street churning out tasty dishes, most of which err on the cheaper side of £13.
There’s no licence which means you can match your plate of excellent, home made, pasta with an equally excellent bottle of wine without giving yourself a fright.
Service is sweet – they righted our wobbly table before we’d even noticed a problem – and the locals love it.
As well as pasta, pizza and the usual fare, it does a good line in Italian meat dishes.
I’ve had the best calves liver of my life there – perfectly cooked with sage, plus plenty of lemon to squeeze over – so good in fact that when I saw pigs trotter on the menu this time, I decided to give the cut a second chance.
(I had a bad experience at the otherwise superb Gourmet San in Bethnal Green a couple of years ago.)
I’ve since discovered that cotechino – often eaten at New Year – is not made of pigs trotter, but of pork, back fat and rind, though there is a dish – zampone – which fills a trotter with the same mix.
Still, it was salty, hammy and deliciously rich and the accompanying lentils were soaked through with the same flavour.
Spinach sauteed with garlic was a great accompaniment – the only change I would make would be to add a wedge of lemon to be squeeze over it all to help temper the fattiness.
But really the only bum note La Rugoletta hits is dessert.
I’ve never had it here, but am put off every time by the corporate-style menu, the likes of which can be found in restaurants across in Italy.
I’m not a huge fan of Italian puddings anyway, but the thought of defrosted Pastiera Napoletana is not an appetising one.
Desserts and my own ignorance of the finer points of Italian cuisine aside, this is a great, local restaurant that is packed night after night with people who live in the area.
I’m not East Finchley’s biggest fan, but I am a little jealous of the residents who have this superb place just round the corner.
La Rugoletta, 59 Church Lane, N2 8DR, 020 8815 1743