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August 26th, 2012

The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Updated 25/10/2013 – I visited 500 Restaurant again for a light Sunday lunch and I again enjoyed the food very much. I particularly liked the roasted pumpkin with prosciutto and chilli and the ravioli filled with ricotta affumicato and served with ragu di spada were stunning.
I still highly recommend 500 (Cinque-cento) Restaurant!
Baby Factor: 4/5 – a booster seat is available and the relaxed atmosphere and child-friendly waiters make dining with baby a pleasure.

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Pappardelle al ragu di manzo (11.80) @ 500 Restaurant


Category: Bistro (££)  green traffic5 150x150 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

This new category of “The Neighbourhood Gem” has been born as a result of a line of unsatisfactory visits to en vogue London restaurants.  I concluded that a lot of the eateries that are the flavour at the moment in London, I just don’t rate particularly highly.  I therefore decided together with my eater in crime, Uyen, instead of rushing to all new openings (I am honestly sick and tired of burgers) and endlessly hyped restaurants, to rather explore the neighbourhood eatery – usually a little gem that has been around forever and is recession-proof as it is frequented by loyal locals who keep coming to enjoy the food.

The Neighbourhood Gem is not part of a chain, the chef is not interviewed for Observer Food Monthly and also doesn’t cook in Saturday’s Kitchen.  The no-booking policy is unheard of, the waiters don’t look like models and very often not even the service charge is included in the bill.  And most importantly, the food is outstanding, reasonably priced and unpretentious.  Nice, eh?

So, if you have a restaurant like this in your area, please let me know, I am keen to try.

The first restaurant to feature on Neighbourhood Gem I was introduced to by Uyen who suggested to meet there for one of our weekly dinners.  ’Archway?’ I wondered, ‘Where the heck is Archway?’, making me embarrassingly aware of my ignorance of North London geography.  I happily realised that Archway is indeed in London, only 15 minutes on the tube from my work (well 15 minutes when you take the right branch of the Northern Line) and agreed to venture into the unknown.

500 (Cinquecento) Restaurant won’t win a design award.  It also won’t excel a food styling contest.  But the food was real Italian!  Authentic and seasonal and very tasty – I am considering moving to Archway actually.

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

500 Restaurant

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Complimentary Bread Basket @ 500 Restaurant

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Starters @ 500 Restaurant

The complimentary bread consisting of foccacia, Sardinian bread, ciabatta and a little rosemary roll tasted gorgeous together with the aromatic olive oil.  The Insalata di anguria con pinoli, peperoncino, ricotta affumicats (7.40) was lovely and fresh.  Ripe watermelon was beautifully complimented by shavings of mildly smoked ricotta and crunchy pine nuts.  Even more I enjoyed Lonza di maiale servita con pesche, menta e aceto balsamico (7.80).  Never before had I eaten cured ham in combination with luscious and sweet peaches and fragrant mint – this dish was a mild Italian summer evening on a plate.

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Ravioli di ricotta con erbe estive e salsa pomodoro (11.80) @ 500 Restaurant

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Pappardelle al ragu di manzo (11.80) @ 500 Restaurant

Both pasta dishes were good, but the Pappardelle al ragu di manzo (11.80) was outstanding.  The pappardelle were home-made and cooked to al dente perfection and were immersed and the most delectable and rich veal ragu with big chunks of melting meat sitting like little treasures between the pasta.  I inhaled entire plate and couldn’t stop eating even after I was full to burst.  Ravioli di ricotta con erbe estive e salsa pomodoro (11.80) was less mind-blowing but still a solidly good Italian dish consisting of home-made pasta parcels filled with ricotta and a plethora of different Italian herbs in a light tomato sauce.

 The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

Tiramisu’ (4.20) @ 500 Restaurant

The dessert was the weak point.  Tiramisu (4.20) was to unpleasantly soggy and too boozy and I did not particularly enjoy it.  However, the standard of the food was so high at 500 (Cinquecento) Restaurant that this will be forgiven.  I don’t particularly care for desserts anyway.

The Italian waitress who spoke broken English was incredibly forthcoming and gracious and made sure all our wishes were taken care of.  We even got a huge portion of samphire which was not on the menu. ÂMake sure to book, it would be a shame if you made the journey and realised all the tables are filled by local punters with good taste.

  • Food: 7/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Ambiance: 6/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Chances of Returning: 50%
  • Verdict: Unpretentious and simply good Italian food.
500 Restaurant
782 Holloway Road
N19 3JH
020 7272 3406
Tube: Archway

Other (positive) reports on 500 Restaurant to be found on Love Leluu,  Gourmet Chick and  Time Out.

biglink The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

small The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

4 comments to The Neighbourhood Gem: 500 RESTAURANT (Archway)

  • Very glad to see you are venturing to the North now!! As you know I don’t do Italian very often but in case I have a sudden craving for home-food and I don’t feel like cooking meself 500 Restaurant is close enough to be a good option!!

  • What a splendid idea. It’s neighbourhood gems, like 500, that make London not the big flash over-hyped openings! I’ll be sure to forward on some gems of my own to you!

  • Ute

    @Paola – Didn;t you tell me about a good neighbourhood Japanese in your area? I think I have to venture North again, we should meet soon :)

    @Mr. Noodles – Thanks Sung, glad you agree with me on hyped restaurants. I would appreciate any advice on neighbourhood restaurants, I’m sure you have quite a few up your sleeve.

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