Restaurant review: Sardo Canale, London

Not so long ago you went out for "an Italian". Now it's "Do you fancy Ligurian, or Piedmontese?" Or, if you live in north London, "How about a Sardinian?" Does Italian food merit such regional distinctions? Well, put it this way, if you live in NW-something and don't like your pasta oily and fishy (or sausagey) you're out of luck.

So my Sardinia-loving friend and I were thrilled by the arrival of a no-frills Sard restaurant, Nuraghe, on our doorstep. Although the original makeshift sign (cardboard, string), and rustic decor (sponged paint, starfish, nets) didn't inspire much confidence, the cooking turned out to be tasty and generous. There are typical Sardinian pasta dishes such as malloreddus and culurgiones (they may sound like medical conditions but are in fact hearty favourites - best washed down with a pungent Canonau red). For a fishier option, there's spaghetti alla vongole (clams) or bottarga (crumbly mullet roe), both perfect with a springy Sardinian Vermentino white.

Down the road, tucked away in a canal-side street in Camden Town, is Nuraghe's swisher Sardinian compatriate, Sardo Canale. Although the wine list, menu and even the shard-like crunchy bread are similar, the decor is a lot more minimalist (as is the service). We enjoyed mounds of cured beef and tuna, with green bean salads, for starters; for mains, a rich, squid-ink tagliolini with prawns and clams, and an even richer homemade macaroni (long and chewy) with saffron and crabmeat.

A panettone semifreddo and poached pear encased in pastry made us all the more determined to book ourselves a Sardinian mini-break. If you are debating where to go for your summer holidays, there is surely no better way to sway
a friend or partner than to give them a sneak preview of the cuisine they could be enjoying.

Nuraghe, 12 Dartmouth Park Hill, London NW5, 0871 971 5623
Sardo Canale, 42 Gloucester Avenue, London NW1 8JD