- The Dish: Sfogliatina di albicocche (traditional Italian pastry with apricot)
- The Place: Lina Stores - 20 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DR
- The Chef: Masha Rener
Six months ago, we brought you the breakdown of the new Lina Stores spot in Kings Cross. The deli/restaurant is the second major expansion from the almost century-old Italian Soho institution.
Combining aspects of both retail (Italian pantry classics) and foodservice (freshly made staples with particular focus on pasta), Lina Stores has gone from strength to strength since the launch of their new outposts, with head chef Masha Rener this month unleashing the operation’s first-ever breakfast menu in their new Kings Cross branch.
The new menu, La Colazione (Italian for ‘breakfast’), is chock full of modern interpretations of Italian breakfast classics, with Rener continuing to take inspiration from her Umbrian roots in its creation. A number of indulgent bakery options feature, such as sfogliatina (a vanilla cream and puff pastry treat with either fig or apricot) and their torta di polenta e arancia (an orange and polenta cake).
The almond milk crema di riso is primed as a lighter alternative to porridge, while the classic Nutella-filled doughnuts, bomboloni, also make an appearance.
Rener has also devised several decadent, meaty sandwich options such as the panino con porchetta (crispy roasted pork belly in ciabatta) and the focaccia con salsiccia (Tuscan fennel sausage, fried egg and Scamorza cheese in a rosemary focaccia).
At the unveiling of the new breakfast menu at Kings Cross, Masha Rener said that while the menu is an Italian breakfast affair, the concept doesn’t align too closely with early morning eating customs in the European country.
“La colazione in Italy is often a very quick affair, whether you’re in Milan or Naples, with most Italians opting for a quick coffee with a sweet pastry to go or to eat at the counter of a caffè,” she said.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming locals and visitors alike for our new menu, which takes a more relaxed approach, starting the day with Italian dishes – both sweet and savoury – that are perfect for the morning.”
In essence, Rener has taken traditional Italian breakfast fare and adapted the concept to suit the blossoming UK breakfast/brunch trends, with Food Spark highlighting several restaurants over the past few years to similarly take a bite out of the burgeoning market.
Venezuelan brunch, Sri Lankan brunch, even Mexican brunch menus have popped up on our radar of late, with a recent survey from Streetbees revealing that 49% of people are eating more brunch than a year ago.
While Lina Stores’ colazione is technically more breakfast than brunch, the size of the menu (12 separate options with three extras) and number of brunch-centric options indicates a wider target market than just the early risers.
For example, the three, freshly baked pane Pugliese options – alsicca e fagioli (Tuscan fennel sausage with cannellini beans stewed in tomato), uova con tartufo (truffle scrambled eggs) and polenta e funghi (roasted mushrooms, Parmigiano and creamy polenta) – are all hearty, indulgent takes on the traditionally buttered breakfast option.
There’s so much to take of note of in the menu, with the sfogliatina potentially being the most interesting in terms of most recent UK trends and potential application.
Said to have originated in the Southern Italian region of Campania, the sfogliatina is made up of incredibly thin layers of overlapping puff pastry with an indulgent filling. Lina Stores have gone for either fig or apricot with vanilla cream, but all manner of chocolates, jams and creams work with the versatile pastry.
Permissible indulgence is a bit of a buzzword in pastry these days, with Peter Linden, insights manager for foodservice at the NPD Group, saying in November that bakery is outperforming the total eat-out market in Britain partly due to the rise in savoury and sweet breakfast pastry trends in the UK.
In fact, the NPD Group predict that, by 2022, bakery visits could increase by as much as 10% (or 470m visits), led by savoury bakery products (12% visits), while sweet bakery visits could increase by 8% (108m visits), with Lina Stories pastry-led brekkie menu potentially able to take advantage.
Meanwhile, championing lesser known areas of Italian cuisine, much like the ambitious team at the regional street food brand Sugo, could grow to be a big area for NPD teams across the country this year, with the more experimental, curious consumer allowing for greater depth in Italian menus.