Arenella at the Chapel Bar review: simple Italian cooking, deliciously served

Relaxed dining on a sun-soaked London terrace


Named after the region just outside Sicily, the newly-opened Arenella brings refined Italian flavours to a cosy roof terrace at Islington’s Chapel Bar.

The bottomless lunch boasts unlimited Prosecco, Aperol spritz, vino blanco or elderflower spritz all served up by a friendly group of waiters who are always on hand for a speedy top up.

The vino blanco paired nicely with a starter of steamed mussels, fergola and lemon. The mussels were cooked to perfection and combined nicely with al dente fregola pasta and a citrusy sauce. My dining companion opted for a glass of Prosecco and crispy calamari fritti, which came with a similarly tort lemon and garlic mayonnaise.

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A main course of nduja tortellini and red pesto followed the mussels. The nduja was delicious if a little less spicy than expected, and was offset well by the tomato and basil pesto. The lemon and ricotta ravioli was also excellent and came with a deliciously buttery sauce and a dusting of parmesan.

No gluttonous lunch would be complete without an unnecessary dessert following a superbly filling two courses. The white chocolate and Campari cannoli was perfect - and about the right size after the filling starter and main course. Meanwhile, the mini chocolate hazelnut donuts, accompanied by a healthy scoop of ice cream, is possibly a little too large - though it was also delightful and disappeared from the bowl post haste.

After three excellent courses, all that is left is to bask in the sunshine over one last refreshing drink, before departing to peruse the nearby Chapel Market. Arenella says that at its heart is a “philosophy of simple southern Italian cooking” and on this count, it certainly delivers.

£35 all in for the starter, main and bottomless drinks. Desserts cost £6 each on top;

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