BERTO Review

A Tuesday evening but flagship restaurant Zia Lucia was buzzing with customers indoor and out, the vibe continued next door where their little ‘brother’ Berto was quickly filling up. Despite a busy service, they managed to maintain a family friendly atmosphere. The open pasta bar was the focal point from every angle of the restaurant creating a sense of a large Italian family cooking and eating together. Additional character is added by the colourful handmade Umbrian pottery serving up every dish.

The drinks list is broad but we went with a glass of recommended Chianti, a fruity accompaniment to our starter. We opted for local organic bread with semi-dried tomatoes, sardines (fried in batter) and buffalo ricotta. Although the sardines looked appetizing, my dining companion and I both felt the dish was a tad bit oily and slightly underwhelming. As lovers of fish, Sicilian style grilled sardines would have been a nice alternative menu option. 

We were however impressed with our other starters; a generous portion of creamy buffalo ricotta drizzled with aromatic chestnut honey. A perfect accompaniment to slices of light nutty bread topped with the salty sweetness of the tomatoes. The aubergine and beef polpettine and selection of Slumifico (cured meats) which were within view, also looked strangely appetizing for two non red meat eaters.

For mains, they offer up an appealing variety of vegetarian options, but we opted for Strozapretti with sardines and daterrini tomatoes and the classic Aubergine and mozzarella parmigiana. Although I did exhibit some food envy eying up the golden ravioli on the table opposite us. 

The Strozapretti was served perfectly ‘al dente’ with a light seasoning allowing the freshness of the sardines to come through, the tomatoes adding a little sweetness to the dish and breadcrumbs scattered on top added to the textural element of the dish. My companion shared my loving sentiments, but felt it could have done with a little black pepper.

I’m a big fan of aubergine and the dish did not fail on flavor, it was wholesome and heart warming. The layers of aubergines held their shape and absorbed the flavours from the delectable tomatoe sauce, which was a flavoursome combination of sweet and saltiness coupled with the pronounced flavours from the parmigiana.

There are three options for Dolci Della Cassa ‘homemade desserts’. We tried the Cannoli Siciliani and Chocolate Fondant. Two mini cannolis with lightly whipped ricotta filling and a subtle sweetness complimented by the crunchy texture from the pistachios and hazelnuts were to die for. The shell was crisp and flakey. The chocolate fondant was decadent with a perfect chocolate gooey filling oozing out; I recommend this to anyone who has a sweet tooth. Our mini dining experience across Italy was concluded by one of the best Italian blend Americano’s I’ve had in a very long time (and I’m a coffee snob). 

Speaking to Gianluca, the owner, he gave me an insight into the daily process of making fresh artisanal pasta and the craftsmanship that goes into ensuring the texture and taste of their gluten free dough is comparable to traditional varieties. He is clearly passionate about incorporating locally sourced ingredients into his menu and creating a ‘home away from home’ feel. I definitely left well fed and like I had been to dinner with family. An affordable menu that doesn’t cut back on authenticity and quality, I will be returning to try the gluten free pasta and the Italian liquor based cocktails (and did I mention the cannoli and coffee…


Address: Berto, 155 Holloway Road, N7 8LX Berto, 155 Holloway Road, N7 8LX

Written by: Eboni Addoh