About a year and a half ago I went on my first trip to Italy and spent about three weeks going to the most stunning wedding of one of my best friends, followed by a tour of the Cinque Terra, Pisa, Florence, Bologna and Rome. Many, many things took my breath away during that trip and quite a few things stood out – for example the delis and food stores. They are jam packed full of products and produce, pasta is piled upon each other and shelves are stacked with endless jars and packets. So, I was pretty excited to take my Italian friend along to Lina Stores on Brewer Street in Soho to see what he thought of it and whether this delicatessen is like the ones he has at home, and like the ones I saw on my holiday.
If you have read some of my posts before, you know that I can get pretty obsessed with the aesthetic of a place and that’s what I can get infatuated by quite easily. (For example, pop over here to read about the restaurant I would get married to if that was a thing, it’s so stunning!). I must have been a keen interior designer in a former life. Well, Lina Stores is definitely no different as when you approach the store, it just looks like summer where the rain never touches. The front facade is all mint green and some pinstripes. It’s the sort of branding that can stand the test of time and seasons, which is proven by the fact that Lina Stores has been around since the 1940s. Outside is a small seating area under the awnings where you can sit with coffee and freshly made panini in hand if you were feeling so inclined.
Inside, there are floor to ceiling shelves painted in the same mint green. These cubed spaces are full to the brim with amaretti from Genova, sauces, vinegars, porcini mushrooms and oils, with packets of basil seeds hanging about in some places too. There is even a sliding ladder to access the higher shelves if you wanted to channel your inner librarian and climb on up to cherry pick from the top. Panettone and Pandoro hang from the ceiling, discounted from the Christmas period but still as tasty and buttery as ever. There are a couple of smaller fridges humming away with fresh pasta and cheeses, and various pre-made plates showcasing their event catering capabilities. Massive wheels of parmigiano hide stacked up in the corners of the floor.
Away from the shelves is a deli counter practically the whole width of the delicatessen, filled with tupperware of olives and roasted peppers, more cheese (no shock) and Italian charcuterie (even less shock). As expected from an authentic continental deli, whole hams are also hanging above the counter, next to another shelf full of wines. To gaze on the floor, you see large crates of pasta and speciality biscuits and as your eyes move up, you catch glimpses of fresh cakes ready to take away by the slice, a coffee machine and tins of tea. Talk about using the space you have effectively.
The true expert review is from my friend who has been in a few Italian delicatessens in London before, but Lina Stores is the first one that has the products from the motherland. He was very surprised that Lina Stores stocked stracchino, a very young rindless cow’s milk cheese that is creamy and ricotta-esque. To him, this seemed to validate their sourcing standards and skills.
So if you want a taste of Italy without the plane ticket and within a good half an hour, head over to Lina Stores. A cornicopia of Italian produce, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had the entirety of the Italian food industry tucked away in a corner, a shelf or hanging up somewhere.
|Monday||8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday||8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday||8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.|
|Thursday||8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.|
|Friday||8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.|
|Saturday||10:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.|