Review: Rossella, Highgate Road

Luca Meola is fresh out of college, with a burning passion for running his own trattoria

Luca Meola is fresh out of college, with a burning passion for running his own trattoria. Luckily his dad is well versed in the restaurant game and the two of them have set about turning this once difficult site into Luca’s first venture.

The spot was formerly occupied by Pasta Habit, providing good value if uninspiring hot lunches to the workers from Highgate Studios; and dinners to a loyal local family contingent. That was until the place was busted for an unexpected sideline in a sizable drugs ring a couple of years back.

Rossella brings back the friendly attitude and the value – without the contraband. On our Saturday early evening visit, every table was occupied. There were a lot of kids. It was fun, although the poor middle-aged couple trying to hear each other speak at the neighbouring table looked shaken by the noise.

Luca is very evidently a fantastic people person, attending to each of the tables in turn, and on first name terms with many of the diners, even though the restaurant is still a relatively new arrival. The positive attitude shines through. It’s all very Italian, in the big family sense.

The food, though plentiful, is fairly basic. As we’ve said before in our Top 7 Pizzas feature, we don’t understand why, for instance, the toppings remain so conservative, particularly when up against the glamorous Pizza East next door.

Starters of avocado and prawn, plus a decent-sized bruschetta, reminded of average holiday food rather than a serious new addition to the NW5 food scene. Frozen prawns are just a little too retro. Pasta has a ‘home cooked’ feel, but only in the sense that we could have knocked it up easily at home ourselves. This of course misses the point though. Sometimes, particularly with kids, it’s nice to come and be thoroughly waited on, and this is where Rosella excels.

Grilled salmon came slathered in an unannounced rich sauce, but there was no hesitation in whisking the plate away and cooking a new, naked one. Similarly the pizza-making became an interactive activity for our kids, with the chefs obviously used to playing along. It was such a hit that we started toying with the idea of a pizza-making party as we polished off our pitcher of wine, momentarily undisturbed.

We’d like the food to be a little more complex if we’re honest, but if that affected either the keen prices or the lovely friendly vibe, as it probably would, then there could be trouble. Especially from the loyal band of Rossella devotees who have clamoured for us to review the joint.

This is box title
Pizzas and pastas from £5. Two could eat a main course with a glass of house wine each for under £20. Kentishtowner Rating: 6/10 Rossella, 103 Highgate Road

Words & Pics: Tom Kihl


  • Show Comments

  • Alex Parish

    It’s up against a lot of competition but you absolutely can’t beat this place on 1) value and 2) service with a smile… especially when compared to the overpriced Pizza East next door.

    • Aileen Banks

      It might be a nice Restaurant they need to respect the Residents who have live above the premise, or it will get back to Camden Council the residents can hear the noise from front to back entrance’s from Aileen Banks

  • Neil

    Thanks for the heads-up – I walk past here every day but hadn’t noticed any change from the old set-up, so I’ll take a closer look on my way home in 10 minutes. Maybe mentioning some prices would be useful if you talk about “keen prices”, thanks, as it could mean different things to different folks (particularly interested in the pitcher of wine…).

    • Neil

      Don’t know if I was blind before but I see the prices there now, so sorry if I missed that. (BTW, seems to be closed on Sundays as I walked past it just after 2pm today and it was shuttered.)

      • Kentishtowner

        No, we added them. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Steve

    If you work in Highgate studios then you should be hitting this place up for pizza and pasta lunch, either to eat in or take back to the office, call ahead, even order ahead of arriving and you will have no trouble and at £6 for any pizza or pasta and drink you cannot go wrong! Pizza’s are much better than pizza east, and you can see the dude making the dough!!!

  • Ala

    Wonderful place. Took a good friend of mine there, because she’s called Rossella, and they were great. The food was good and very well priced, they were very nice to my noisy 2-year-old and they gave us complimentary shots of meloncello (no, that’s not a typo) – a melon liquor that their grandmother made.

    I hesitate to recommend the place, but compared to the horrible and overrated Spaghetti House, this place really deserves to be a success.

  • Ala

    Sorry, must add that I hesitate to recommend it because I want it all to myself! Just in case you were wondering.

  • Wendy

    Very friendly local joint and as mentioned prices are extremely reasonable. Portions huge. You can get a good meal here for about half the price (and less attitude) than at Pizza East!