Browsing Tag

pasta

Blog, Italy, Rome

Primo al Pigneto, Rome – EAT

January 29, 2017
Primo Pigneto, Rome

On my latest visit to Rome we decided to be more adventurous and explore areas outside the Centro Storico (the historical centre).  Last time we had ‘braved it’ for the first time, and taken a taxi to Marzapane, about a 10 – 15 minute taxi ride away from Piazza Navona.  It had been such a success that it gave us confidence to continue exploring Rome’s less central areas.

This time, we started with Pigneto.

Pigneto is an eastern ‘suburb’, though it’s only a 15 minute taxi ride away (or Metro journey) and you could probably compare it to Dalston / Peckham / Hackney in look and feel.  It’s up and coming but technically already ‘up’, all the (hip) restaurants and bars were certainly heaving on the Friday night and while this isn’t really an area you’d come to for sightseeing, if you’re looking for good (and super affordable) food and drinks, then you’ll love it.

The main focus of the area is around the aptly named via del Pigneto, a pedestrianised street lined with vibrant restaurants and bars.  I could easily have stopped to eat at a number of places, but we kept walking until we got to Primo.  While we were pretty much the first people there (at 20:15), it didn’t matter at all. The staff are so charming and welcoming, that you immediately feel at home here.  The interiors are laid back industrial, but with a warmth you tend not to get at places like this.

Primo Pigneto, Rome

We all fell in love with our waiter Leroy (yes, that really was his name), who was beyond helpful and put up with our ridiculous conversations.  And we enjoyed all our food, the highlights being the grilled octopus with horseradish cream to start, and the lemon curd for pudding.  The only dish which was disappointing was the veal sweetbreads with truffle, which were chewy and any taste of truffle was strangely absent.  But the pasta dishes were all excellent, and I liked their original way of doing tiramisu with ice cream.

Primo Pigneto, RomePrimo Pigneto, RomePrimo Pigneto, Rome

The wine menu is wonderfully affordable (we drank an excellent Barbera D’Asti for EUR26 a bottle), and they also have organic wines if that’s your thing (it’s not ours).

And afterwards you can stumble across the street to the wonderful Il Tiaso winebar (or Spirito andCo.So if you want cocktails), and continue to indulge in fantastic Italian wine.

Originally when we got out of the taxi in Pigneto my father asked me why on earth I’d taken him there.  That night he understood why.  And if my Dad can think areas that Pigneto are ‘really cool’, then it’s most definitely a winner.

Primo

Via del Pigneto, 46

Rome

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Boca di Lupo, Soho

November 8, 2016
Boca di Lupo, Soho

Considering that Italian food is my favourite cuisine and I spend most of my time eating in Soho, it’s a bit of a miracle that I had never been to Boca di Lupo until last week.

London has some wonderful Italian restaurants; from ‘swanky’ Zafferano, to South Ken favourite La Famiglia, to the more relaxed but no less excellent Trullo and Padella.  But Buco di Lupo is a name I hear regularly, constantly, and it’s always being praised.

Boca di Lupo, Soho

Book to sit at the kitchen bar, where all the action is.  The food is excellent.  Simple, no messing about, wonderful Italian food.  My favourite was the potato gnocchi with sausage.  While gnocchi is usually a stodgy, heavy dish, this was light, delicate and full of flavour. The pumpkin risotto was good too, but didn’t stand out as much for me.

Boca di Lupo, Soho

We ordered the Tagliata to share for the main course.  I’m glad we shared because it is truly massive (and beautifully cooked).  The rocket and parmesan are the perfect accompaniment, and we ordered a tomato salad which worked very well too.

We also enjoyed their wine.  Quite a lot of wine, as a matter of fact, from different regions in Italy (they have an excellent, if expensive, Italian wine list).  My favourite was the Barbera, but, at £17 per glass, it’s not automatically your go-to wine.  The Sangiovese was good too, and I can’t remember what else we drank because things got a bit blurry…

Boca di Lupo, Soho

In Soho, where you are spoilt for choice of restaurants, Buco di Lupo stands out.  The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the food superb, the setting beautiful, warm and cosy.  Next time my father’s in town, I’m taking him there.  And that’s got to be a good sign.

Buco di Lupo

12 Archer St, Soho,

London W1D 7BB

 

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Restaurante Teresina, Bologna

July 10, 2016
Restaurante Teresina, Bologna

We came to Teresina on our last day in Bologna.  It had been raining all morning and we were departing that afternoon.  So I already had the slight ‘Sunday blues’ feeling.  But then we had lunch here, and the ‘Bolognese’ was so good, it instantly cheered me up!

In the summer, Teresina’s terrace must be a lovely place to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner al fresco.  While the terrace doesn’t have any views as such, it is set back from the street, so it’s quiet.  Inside is also pleasant: simple like you’d expect from a local trattoria.  The staff are helpful and friendly, and the service quick and professional.

While Italians aren’t known for their bread, the bread here was excellent.  Warm and soft, I couldn’t resist a few slices to add to the carb fest that had been our weekend in this magical city.

Restaurante Teresina, Bologna

They have all the traditional, local dishes you’d expect in Bologna.  The tortellini broth, various fresh pastas, and a few meat and seafood dishes.  While no trattoria would ever serve what we know as ‘spaghetti Bolognese’, they do serve fresh tagliatelle with a Bolognese Ragu.  I’d highly recommend it.

Rob’s parents liked it so much they returned for dinner after Rob and I departed.

Restaurante Teresina 

via Oberdan 4, 40126

Bologna

 

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Ristorante Cesarina, Bologna – EAT

May 22, 2016
Cesarina, Bologna

Bologna is full of beautiful squares and countless stunning churches, but the one square that stands out is the Piazza Santa Stefano, famous for having seven churches.  At night it’s incredibly atmospheric, and so there are few places like Cesarina in Bologna: where you can eat delicious food and (weather permitting) sit outside and enjoy the view of the square.

Cesarina, Bologna

We were not so lucky with the weather, so sat inside – a lovely and refined dining room, very Italian, simple but elegant.  I would always encourage you to book, and if possible to book a table outside, under the charming portico which Bologna is so famous for.

It was here that we enjoyed a dish we had long been waiting to try, Bologna’s signature dish: the tortellini in ‘brodo’ (chicken broth).  We all had this as a starter and it was well worth the wait.  I then continued carb loading and had a wonderful asparagus risotto, which the Italians do so well.  The rest of the party had a mixture of beef and other pasta dishes.  The food was really good, the prices fair and the service excellent.

Cesarina, Bologna

To finish with, while some of us had sambuccas, I was very tempted by the pistachio semi freddo, which I called the leaning tower of Bologna.  A little like panna cotta, but not quite as soft, it was exquisite, and a wonderful end to the dinner.  Rob and I then headed into the more student part of town for a drink at Le Stanze (a bar in a church, worth it for a drink).

Cesarina, Bologna

Cesarina

Via Santo Stefano, 19/B,

40125 Bologna

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna – EAT

May 22, 2016
Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna

Only in Italy will you find a place like this. Dinner here is not like a normal dinner; it is a unique and memorable experience, for most people will be one of the many highlights of Bologna.

It’s probably fair to say this is not for everyone. If you like being in control of your evening, when and what you eat and if you prefer to be left alone to enjoy your dinner, then you may not like Drogheria della Rossa. Having said that, I’m a bit of a control freak, yet totally loved it.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
The owner is very much present throughout the evening, getting steadily more merry as the evening proceeds.  You’re warmly welcomed and shown to your table, in a small, cosy, eccentric space, which used to be an old pharmacy.  There is bric a brac everywhere, and a rose on every table. You’re instantly served a glass of prosecco and swiftly afterwards your aperitivo arrives. After half an hour we still hadn’t seen a menu, despite asking for it.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
Eventually the wine list arrived and we ordered a wonderful Barbera D’Asti, so smooth and easy to drink. Then the owner showed up and listed the pasta options.  Tortellini with courgette flowers, ravioli with aubergine filling, tagliatelle with the famous Ragu. We ordered all of them and were delighted – once it eventually arrived.  Instead of a ‘secondi platti’ we ordered dessert.  I had a typical cake from Bologna, with chocolate and nuts. Rob had an incredible chocolate flan.  Rob’s father had an orange semi Freddo and his mother strawberries in the most incredible cream.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
At this point the owner was back and had grabbed a chair to chat with us. Noting our wine was finished he promptly ordered another bottle of Barbera – on the house.

Drogheria della Rossa, BolognaDrogheria della Rossa, BolognaDrogheria della Rossa, Bologna
It was a very merry evening, with fantastic food and a lovely atmosphere. The owner transforms the restaurant into one big dinner party, whereby the guests end up meeting and interacting with each other.

When we left we were presented with a rose each from the charming owner, something which is apparently quite common, yet he absolutely had the ability to make you feel very special as guests. An absolute must go.

Drogheria della Rossa

Via Cartoleria, 10, 40124 Bologna

 

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Padella, Borough Market

April 18, 2016
Padella, Borough Market

Pasta.  You just can’t go wrong.  Especially when it’s home (and lovingly) made by Tim and Jordan, from Trullo (in Highbury) fame.  They had always wanted to open a pasta bar, and have now finally done so, right by London Bridge, on the edge of Borough Market.

Padella, Borough Market

Their soft launch weekend was a few weeks ago, so hundreds queued for hours to enjoy 50% off their pasta dishes.  But the prices are so low there’s no need to feel like you missed out.  I can’t think of a restaurant that I’ve been to in years that is as affordable (and quick) as Padella is.   Pasta dishes range from a fiver to just under a tenner, which is the Pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu.  The antipasti is all under £5, and if you’re starving and craving carbs I’d highly recommend their sourdough bread with delicious olive oil (you can even upgrade to the really fancy stuff).  And perhaps some of their burrata.

Padella, Borough Market

My friend Amber and I were both instantly drawn to the Tagliatelle with Italian fennel sausage ragu, but decided to share two pasta dishes so we could try more of the menu.  So we also went for the Ravioli of ricotta with sage butter.  Both were wonderful and completely moorish.  Licking the plate was sadly not an option but had I been in the safe confines of my own kitchen I would not have held back.

Padella, Borough MarketPadella, Borough MarketPadella, Borough Market

The wine menu is short and succinct.  The merlot a mere £3 a glass (but they are small).  Pudding is 100% worth going for, their flourless chocolate cake light and fluffy and a real winner.

Padella, Borough Market

The place itself seems tiny when you walk in – there is a kitchen bar and a few tables.  But downstairs offers a much larger space (but it’s still quite squashed).  I would probably recommend sitting at the kitchen bar upstairs as it’s fun watching the chefs work their magic. The interiors are cute, but downstairs could probably do with a little more atmosphere.

Padella is the perfect quick lunch or dinner option, affordable and filling, with unique sauces and produce.  I think it will remain as popular as it was during their soft launch, and not just because of their pricing.

Padella

6 Southwark Street
London
SE1 1TQ

Photo credit food: me

Photo credit interiors: Steve Joyce

 

Blog, Italy, Rome

Maccheroni, Rome – EAT

February 28, 2016

I’ve walked past this restaurant so many times, mainly because it is next to my favourite date restaurant Casa Coppelle. On Saturday evening we walked past Maccheroni after dinner at the excellent Marzapane (a taxi away), and noted how many locals were spilling out of it, and how cosy it looked.

Maccheroni, RomeMaccheroni, Rome
So for Sunday lunch (and with pasta cravings continuing), we decided to try it.

The place is deceptively huge. The upstairs area looks fairly modest, but we were led downstairs through one (full) room after another. It’s quite amazing how many little rooms there are under curved brick arches. Wine bottles line shelves on the walls.  It is a cosy place, but not a glamorous one. We sat next a huge Roman family, who devoured course after course washed down with lots of red wine. They reminded me of a slightly less beautiful version of those D&G adverts.

Maccheroni, Rome
It’s the vibe here that’s so wonderful. The service is brisk and friendly. People are happy.  As were we, as the pastas, while not necessarily delicate, were delicious. I shared a creamy ravioli with zucchini flowers (why we don’t have them more in the UK God knows), and a truffle linguini (which you can smell as you enter).

Maccheroni, RomeMaccheroni, Rome
And then, after a quick espresso, we headed to a cab and drove to the airport.  A great way to end another epic weekend in Rome.

NB Note they don’t serve pizza here.  Yes, we were disappointed too.  But trust me, the pasta makes up for it.

Maccheroni

Piazza delle Coppelle, 49,

00186 Roma

Blog, Italy, Rome

Taverna Trilussa, Rome – EAT

February 28, 2016
Taverna Trilussa, Rome

I’m never sure about taking restaurant recommendations from five star hotels, as find they often recommend expensive, pretentious restaurants which never go down well with me. But when JK Place recommended Taverna Trilussa in Trastevere (just across the bridge from Piazza Farnese), I was confident we were going to enjoy it.

If you’re looking for an upmarket local taverna, with excellent food and jolly, professional service, Trilussa is your place. Their signature is serving their (large array of) pasta dishes in a pan. The portion are ridiculously huge.  My pan of moorish gnocchi was so large that by the time I’d got half way I was so full even the thought of panna cotta was off putting (obviously after a short rest, we ordered multiple panna cottas).  

If you order just the ‘primi’ dishes (effectively the carb options – pasta, risotto and gnocchi), the prices are surprisingly low for such a well-known establishment.  Their wines too, are reasonable, even some of their Piedmonte wines.  They have a huge terrace which is covered and heated in the winter, and they’ll give you rugs to keep you warm. The guests are mostly Italians and some tourists; a nice mixture.

And when dinner is over you can grab a cocktail at the very trendy and completely different Coffee Pot (bizarrely serving tacos, sushi and mezcal – sounds terrible, is great).  Or head back across the bridge to the Camponeschi on Piazza Farnese for a cocktail or glass of wine.

Taverna Trilussa

Via del Politeama, 23 – 25

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