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Mister Lasagna has restaurants across west and central London, with branches in Soho, Piccadilly, Belgravia and Victoria. Its mantra is ‘Italian fast food’, and founder Alessandro Limone says its cooking is “just like my grandmother would serve to me when I was a little boy”. Of the 21 rotating varieties, only 13 are available on any given day. Other styles include pesto, smoked salmon, carbonara, mashed potato and egg, and tuna, capers and olives.
The chunky, oozing pasta dishes are displayed at the front of the counter, and come with optional sauces (bolognese, béchamel, mushroom, four cheese or tomato), with a couple of fresh basil leaves on top.
Mister Lasagna is mostly about lasagne, but that’s not the whole story. You can also order regular pasta, arancini, panini and calzoni, plus breakfast options like muffins and croissants. For dessert, tiramisu and crème brûlée sit alongside – you guessed it – another lasagne, this time with Nutella and cookie layers.
Having 21 styles of lasagne might seem over the top, but the dish has varied throughout history and across different regions of Italy. The first recorded recipe featured sheets of fermented dough sprinkled with cheese and spices. Other early varieties featured walnuts and chicken fat.
The most popular style today, lasagna al forno, with its thick, meaty ragu and béchamel sauce, originates from Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy. But in Naples, the sheets are layered with sausage, meatballs, eggs, ricotta and mozzarella. Related dishes around the world include Polish lazanki, in which sheets of pasta are served with cabbage and sausage, and moussaka, the eastern Mediterranean dish in which aubergine or potato slices serve as the deliciously filling ballast.