The 500 Italian Restaurant, or Cinquecento as it is otherwise known, is situated in North London on Holloway Road close to Archway station. We first heard about 500 on the Restaurant Inspector TV programme when it was flagged as an example of a great restaurant. We have dined there a few times now and are always very impressed. If you’re searching for the best Italian restaurant in London, places to eat in Archway or best places to eat Holloway Road then you must book a table at the 500 Italian Restaurant.
Black Truffle Tagliatelle
Our most recent visit was with our foodie friends Robin and Ness on a Wednesday night, and the restaurant was packed. It’s a small and unassuming low key establishment with a team of seven people who are passionate about seeking out the finest ingredients and making beautifully cooked food. With an unobtrusive service, it’s ideal for a small group of food-loving friends or a date night.
500 Italian Restaurant Menu
The menu here doesn’t go on for pages which I am always thankful for and changes around five times a year, but they have quite a few daily specials. For starters, you can order a board brimming with homemade bread, including fabulous focaccia but do save room for your main meals! I always enjoy the olives which are lovely to nibble on while you study the menu. I began with the creamy burrata mozzarella from Andria in Puglia served with raw courgette salad, chilli, mint and aged balsamic vinegar which was so simple but so tasty and refreshing.
Other starters included Sardinian crispy bread with white crab meat and diced tomatoes. Another was San Daniele ham with grapes, pine nuts and a thick wine syrup which is rather like balsamic vinegar. The homemade salty carpaccio is served with rocket, mushrooms and grana cheese shavings. Or you might want the soup which was cream of celeriac and potato with a hint of white truffle oil. If you’re going to share, you could try their cold starter board. We usually go for the fried ravioli.
There is a selection of pasta for mains which are along the lines of potato gnocchi with gorgonzola and whole nuts. The ravioli was filled with duck and mascarpone with butter, sage and orange sauce. Robin tried the strozzapreti with slow-cooked beef in tomatoes and red wine which he said was packed full of flavour. On the specials menu, you could try truffles with pasta which we did. Homeboy ordered the tagliatelle in butter with black truffle shavings, so simple but such a treat. They shave the truffle over your dish at the table.
Strozzapreti con Ragu
I shared a risotto with Homeboy which was cooked with pumpkin, mushrooms and chestnuts, and it was wonderfully creamy and delicious. You have to give them a thirty-minute heads up for the risotto as this is cooked from scratch, so I ordered while we were waiting for our guests to arrive.
If you’d prefer something other than pasta or risotto you may want to try the lamb cutlets, slow-cooked oven baked rabbit, lemon sole or fish stew with chickpeas. On the specials board, it was a veal escalope dish with black truffles which Ness sampled and raved about.
Veal Escalope with Black Truffles
There are a few desserts on the menu to keep you happy, from pistachio ice cream to tiramisu, strawberry mousse and coppa 500 which contained figs. Or you could finish with a cheese board if you have a room that is!
Ice Cream, Tiramisu and Fig Desserts
Overall the standard of food here is very high in terms of a well thought out menu, authentic ingredients and surprising flavours. The food presentation isn’t fussy at all which I kind of like because they are not trying to wow you with looks, it is just down to the taste. It’s a fantastic place to check out if you’re a real food lover, for a special occasion or a cosy date night. I thought it was a very reasonable price and our bill was £126.20, and we had a bottle of prosecco, a few spirits, four starters and mains plus three desserts.
500 Italian Restaurant Interiors
You might pass this restaurant by without noticing it because the façade is simple. It’s positioned on busy Holloway Road near the Archway end which isn’t the most glamorous of places, although I love the urban rawness of the area. The front is painted a dark red colour, and there is a big glass window.
The restaurant is small and intimate. The walls have a few paintings, some featuring Fiat cars because this restaurant is named after the Fiat 500. So don’t think it is located at street number 500 otherwise you’ll get lost! The interiors haven’t been designed as such, but it is contemporary, clean and comfortable.
500 Italian Information
Cuisine: Italian food
Price: Starters £7.30-7.40, pasta and risotto £11.80, mains £15.80-17 and desserts around £4.60
Website: 500 Restaurant
Address: 782 Holloway Road, London N19 3JH
Near: Archway, Holloway Road and Highgate
Open: Refer to the website for current opening times
Décor: Clean and contemporary
Seating: One floor only for around 30 covers at a guess
Reservations: You must book a table
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London, the interior and outside sign pictures are from the restaurant. Thanks: Homeboy, Robin and Ness for dining with me.