Being a massive foodie who lives and breathes restaurants, it is no surprise that I have collated a list as long as the river Thames of new, old and recommended food spots in London. At the top of that list for a while now has been Stoke Newington’s neighbourhood restaurant, WOLF. Famous for its seasonal menus and local ingredients, I had spotted Stokie’s new kid on the block a few months ago all over my social media feeds. With Italian being one of my preferred cuisines along with the mouth-watering images I had been exposed to, I knew I had to make the trip and try this place as soon as I could.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of the busy Stoke Newington High Street, WOLF is filled with marble tables, indoor foliage and the most attentive and wonderful staff.
As we sat down we were presented with the summer seasonal menu which gave me wide eyes and a hungry tummy from the second I took my first glance. Our waiter was incredible – passionate about all the food and drinks we asked about and gave us great recommendations for each course. After creating some customised cocktails for my guest and I in line with what we told him we liked, we were faced with the difficult decisions of what to order.
To start us off we were given a little dish of freshly baked focaccia topped with Italian olive oil, sea salt and rosemary. Although only small, I could tell instantly the food to follow was going to be amazing if this bread was anything to go by. It was absolutely delicious and if we hadn’t ordered so much I would have been asking for another few rounds of it. It was the perfect start to the meal.
For our first course we went for the cuttlefish braised with ‘nduja, chickpeas, lemon and chilli. This is never usually something I would choose but after being recommended by our waiter, as soon as I took the first bite I knew it was the right decision. The cuttlefish tasted like a more tender, softer squid mixed with the array of flavours from the ‘nduja and chickpeas. The whole dish was incredible and was really refreshing trying something I had never eaten before. I will be ordering this again if I ever see it on a menu, that’s for sure.
As a self-proclaimed cheese addict, I can never pass on burrata if it’s on the menu so we chose this as our section starter. It was fresh, creamy and delicious – everything burrata always should be! The portion was huge compared to the cuttlefish which was great but did also leave me wanting more of the cuttlefish dish as the burrata can be slightly rich.
For our second course or ‘primi’ course as the Italians call it, we were given the choice of 3 different pasta dishes. We eventually settled on 2, again with the help of our wonderful waiter and first up was the pappardelle with black pepper and pecorino. This was a simple yet tasty dish using authentic Italian fresh pasta and flavours from regional Italy. I wouldn’t say the dish excited me, especially compared to our second primi choice but it was a tasty and delightful one.
The second primi dish we chose was the stand-out winner of the entire meal for me. This was the crab ravioli with butter, lemon and sage. I am always a massive fan of any ravioli but I have to say this was one of the best I have ever eaten. Rich in flavour, soft in texture and met with a subtle buttery sauce made this plate of pasta just outstanding and definitely left me wanting more of it. I could a have eaten about 50 of these little Italian pillows of joy.
For the main course we chose 2 different dishes and 2 sides – because it wouldn’t be a complete meal without sides of course. The first of the 2 was the sea bream with haricot beans, creme fraiche, peas, sea aster and marjoram. This was on the bone still which was a little tricky to share between 2 of us but it fell straight off the bone nicely and was overall amazing. The sea bream itself had a meaty yet light texture and together with the beans and peas felt really refreshing and perfect for a summer’s evening.
Having fish as one of the other options, we were definitely going to go for a meat dish for the second. It was a tough call between the pork collar steak with fennel, charred radicchio, capers and cauliflower sauce,or bavette steak with roasted beetroot, orseradish, samphire and salsa verde. As I am not really a lover of fennel the steak won it for me this time and it did not disappoint. It came rare and was oozing in flavour. Some may have found it a little too rare but I thought the meat was still tender, moist and tasted amazing. The roasted yellow beetroot and samphire were both superb accompaniments to the steak and tied the dish together to create a perfect meaty dish.
I always have such a hard time deciding which sides to order so with our waiter’s recommendations, the heirloom tomato with red onion and the truffle potatoes with parmesan and truffle oil were ordered. Both of these were the absolute cherry on the top of the whole dinner for us. Our waiter explained these tomatoes were very traditional and come from regional Italy and you could definitely tell. They were incredibly juicy and tasted so fresh, especially with the onion and basil topping. But the truffle potatoes for me were at the top along with the crab ravioli from the previous course. These were crushed new potatoes which had been cooked to meet everyone’s potato expectations – crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. This texture met with the strong flavour of truffle and rosemary made this the absolutely perfect side dish (for any meal!)
During our mains our waiter bought over the wine list, however after all his other recommendations so far we let him pick for us. I went for white and my guest went for red. My authentic Italian wine was crisp and actually matched perfectly with both the fish as well as the meat which is usually hard to do with just one wine but again, he got it spot on.
By the time we finished all 3 of these courses there was absolutely no room left for dessert. So we finished with a shot of limoncello and laid back in our chairs watching the world go by with our window seat. It was hard to believe we were still in Stoke Newington when we felt like we had just been transported to a little hidden spot into an traditional Italian old town.
I left feeling extremely happy with our evening and I’m pleased to say the social media hype around WOLF is definitely all worth it. Whether you are looking for a weekend brunch, a casual dinner or a cosy dinner I would highly recommend WOLF to get all your Italian taste buds dancing and screaming mamma mia!
110 Stoke Newington High Street,London, N16 7NY