Inside, the room is industrial-chic. Dimly lit with choice spotlights, the exposed brickwork made the room unmistakenly East London-cool. A mirrored, disco-ball pizza oven dominates one section of the room and a bar populated by diners on high stools oversaw the action.
We had a table reserved - I know, RESERVED! - and we started off with some cured meats. Interestingly, no lardo was actually offered but instead some home-cured chorizo and loin of pork, garnished with thinly shaved fennel. The chorizo had a spicy kick and both dishes were good value at £4.50 per 25gr. Starters followed, and a fat bulbous burrata was drizzled with olive oil. Pierced open, our forks scrabbled to scoop up its oozing centre.
Arancini was crisp and well fried (possibly the choice starter of the night), its innards studded with ferociously spicy 'nduja. Vitello Tonnato was a dish that, when described, baffled everyone so of course it had to be ordered. Thinly sliced veal, poached until just pink was dressed with a sauce of smooth tuna mayonnaise and flecked with capers. It was pleasant enough to eat but I'm not sure I'm really down with the whole idea of the dish. Veal is a delicate flavour, and tuna isn't a shrinking violet - I know which flavour I'd prefer to taste more of.
Goats cheese and courgette flower pizza was strewn with mint and only reinforced my thoughts that courgette flowers are just a pretty thing. It was one of my favourites of the pizzas though; the toppings were bright and light.
A black anise pepperoni pizza was topped with rocket and was rich and meaty; when compared to our other two orders it seemed the most standard. Our wildcard was the clam pizza with garlic and chilli; it sounded interesting but I had no idea how it would go down. The clams arrived in their shells and the chilli kick was evident. Thankfully there was no sign of any cheese, and the garlic and parsley was pungent. A little on the salty side though. The dessert options were sparse, and I went for a grapefruit and Campari granita - a bitter, orangey bomb which was just what I needed after all that cheese and meat.
At around £6 for starters and £9ish for pizzas, Lardo is a pretty perfect neighbourhood restaurant. The service was friendly, the atmosphere relaxed and buzzing without being overwhelmingly loud, sometimes a danger for dark industrial-esque places. While their pizzas aren't the best I've had in London - the bases were a little too shatter-crisp for my liking - I liked the inventive toppings. To be honest though I'd go back just to stick my face in another burrata. That stuff was pretty amazing.
London E8 3NJ
Tel: 020 8985 2683