Can you introduce us to Angelina and your vision for the restaurant?
I’ll try to keep this brief but I could talk about it all day! Angelina is a family-owned casual fine-dining restaurant in Dalston that serves fun tasting menus inspired by the culture and flavours of Italy and Japan. Our vision is to serve beautiful in-season ingredients, paired with wines we love, in a warm homely space, with a big smile. We also want to challenge our diners to try unusual foods and combinations that maybe they wouldn’t normally order. To be able to do all the above every day, surrounded by family and my best friend and business partner, Amar, is all I can ask for.
Your support of the community during lockdown and beyond was really special, how and why did you decide to provide meals to those who needed them through pandemic?
For me, it was a very pragmatic decision at a difficult time. As an Italian restaurant, we fortunately had some forewarning from our friends, winemakers and suppliers of the possibility of Covid-19 arriving in London. Despite living for what we do, we knew that fine food was not a priority when basic provisions were getting increasingly difficult and our community was suffering. This led us to explore how many meals we could make in the space we had and who might need them. We ended up partnering with an amazing local charity, Made in Hackney, and decided to start cooking in good faith with minimal agreements in place. 42,000 meals later, coupled with a challenging Covid-secure restaurant re-opening, and we are starting to be able to look back with pride in having supported our community – a community that has always supported, and continues to support, us.
What have you learned from the Covid-19 crisis and working in lockdown?
I think it has taught us the importance of teamwork and staying calm. We are a lot calmer in service now. I think we are a lot more mindful of each other as well as our guests. Practically, it has also helped us to keep operating with really stringent Covid-secure habits as it was our reality for so many months. Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?
My mum: without a doubt. She works astoundingly hard, is fair, always puts others first, is more stylish than I could ever be and is the interior designer of our beautiful restaurant.
What ingredient can you not live without and why?
Capezzana Olive Oil. I put it on everything: at home, in the restaurant, even ice cream. It is subtle and lets other ingredients shine. Also, it’s good for your health apparently – what more could you want?
Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
The River Café or Dumplings Legend.
And where’s your favourite place in the world to eat?
Masenini Pesce in Verona. I keep going back and it is just as magical. It inspired all the crudo dishes we serve in the restaurant.
What do you like to do on a day off?
I love to run, cliched I know, but it is such a balancing activity for me and so good to take my mind of things.
Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?
Tough to list. I love sport, I used to be a footballer and love to watch tennis. Also, I am passionate about art, interiors and design. Last of all but maybe cheating, does wine count as food?
If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would it be and why?
Nina Simone. A few stories and some karaoke would be more than I could hope for.
A 10-course tasting menu at Angelina is £59, an additional wine pairing is £45. Angelina, 56 Dalston Lane, E8 3AH, angelina.london