I was at a friend’s surprise 40th not so long ago. His wife had done a grand job of organising it: his favourite wine bar with his favourite people huddled into the back patiently waiting for him to arrive; the best Italian in the city knocking out pizza in the backyard; champagne on tap! I think someone put two grand on a wine card and I’m pretty sure I made a point of drinking a super Tuscan on it. Afterwards we climbed into cabs and piled back to theirs for afters. More wine — great wine at that — and more champagne. Someone who I’ve seen presenting Have I Got News For You is dancing around the kitchen island to Destiny’s Child and Gordon tells me not to look them in eye. I don’t. It’s getting late, really late, and I’m introduced to a nice man from London who I believe paid for most of the wine in the bar. He knows me as the “food guy” which is nicer than what most people say about me at 4am. I ask where he eats. “Trullo”, he says directly. “It’s the best restaurant in London”.

Fast forward four months and I’m slightly pissed in Islington, hungryish and pushing through the doors of Trullo. It’s gorgeous; panelled walls, curtains that creep only a third up the window, and paper white table tops. It’s classic, but not necessarily Italian classic. It’s a room you are far more likely to encounter in NYC’s Little Italy than Rome. It’s practical, smart, and sharp. In many ways a lot like the man who recommended it. I can see why he likes it.

The menu is short and comfortingly seasonal. Some small plates, some pasta plates, some bigger plates, and some sweeter plates. From the small plates is butterhead lettuce with pecorino and smashed peas. A gentle hum of garlic and the verdant, peppery notes of good olive oil. I, a man who firmly believes that butterhead is best served to rabbits, cannot get enough of it. Expect this to be the dish that I bring to your shitty barbecue in 2022.

They come into their own on the pasta dishes. It’s the best pasta I have eaten in London, arguably the UK. There’s sheets of pappardelle enriched with extra yolks, dressed in a robust ragu of beef shin that’s loose enough to find the bowl peripherals of its own accord. And pici, toothsome and hardy, in a cacio e pepe sauce huge on black pepper. We look at one another across the table both in agreement that a new bar has been set for this, the most millennial of pasta dishes.

We order one of those bigger plates to share, which is a great call given that it’s easily for two, maybe three, in size. A pork chop cooked over the Josper, charred, smokey, and rested to a gentle pink interior, with textbook salsa verde and borlotti beans; some holding their form, others crushed to add body to the gravy. Glorious work that calls for bread to do the cleaning duties. Not a speck is left. With no real space left for dessert we set to work on a tart of rhubarb and frangipane good enough to grace more acclaimed restaurants. This place really is something.

A good bottle of wine and the two of us are out with a bill of a touch under £150. The internet tells me that Trullo has been doing the same food in the same building for well over a decade, yet it feels modern and a true sign of where Italian cooking is right now in the UK. Gone are the days when dried pasta was acceptable and menus full of tired cliches. Trullo might not be the best restaurant in London, but it is an extremely good one.