Via Emilia – The Best Pasta in London
As an Italian food expert, pasta is one of my biggest food loves, and I regularly feast on a home cooked bowl of my favorite Italian carb. But now and again, I want the full experience. Choosing my favorite is almost impossible – with London’s ever-growing community of restaurants that pride themselves in the art of pasta making, I’m rather spoiled for choice. But if I had to put my hand on my heart, there is one place I automatically think of when I want to treat myself to something special. Via Emilia, which is tucked away on a small street just off Hoxton Square, is one of my favorite hidden food gems. It’s a modern, petite and intimate restaurant, lit by low-hung lamps and seating only up to 40 diners – the tables are close enough together that you can take a good nosey at what your neighbor has ordered before making your own choice. The decision to offer a menu that focuses on the cooking of Emilia Romagna, in northern-central Italy, is genius. The “gnocco fritto” antipasti – moreish pillows of softly fried bread, served alongside regional charcuterie and cheeses – is served without any cutlery. When I asked my server, he explained it’s how it’s traditionally served. Naturally, I obliged, picking up the thinly-sliced pieces of Parma ham with my fingers and popped it in my mouth. I might have come for the pasta, but the quality of that starter had me pumped for the main event. I wasn’t disappointed. Their dishes, which come from every corner of the region, give the menu a level of authenticity that gets me extremely excited – especially as their pasta is freshly made on site every single day. They take pride in the fact that their tagliatelle al ragù is made using the original recipe registered in Italy in 1982. I have that alongside a ravioli filled with sweet slow cooked butternut squash served with butter and sage; and baby tortellini served in a bowl of hen broth. The pasta is made and cooked beautifully. It just gets better with each bite and I find myself a little sad when I look down at my empty plate. I just don’t want it to end. I’d strongly recommend ordering a glass – or bottle – of Lambrusco, the region’s frizzante red wine that beautifully accompanies the food. And, whatever else, don’t leave until you have enjoyed their tiramisu. A word of advice: don’t share. You will instantly regret it. It’s by far one of the best I’ve ever tasted in London and brings me to happy tears. Via Emilia has a wonderfully warm and homey vibe: the servers are friendly and knowledgeable and make a real effort to ensure you have the best experience possible. After one visit I found myself trying to come up with an excuse on why I shouldn’t return the following day. Book a table. As soon as you can.
Paola Maggiulli “The Tiny Italian”
I’m an Anglo-Italian food expert, cook, presenter, and consultant, with a life-long passion for Italian cooking. Born and bred in London, I grew up between my father’s Italian delicatessen and my parents’ kitchen, where I learned the pleasures of Italy’s regional cooking and the value of slow living. Now, my mission is to show others how to capture the Mediterranean lifestyle, regardless of where you live, your experience, or how much time you have. I’m passionate about bringing a healthy, seasonal, and pleasure-first approach to food to the UK. On my website, The Tiny Italian, I offer step-by-step recipes, spotlight my favourite Italian restaurants, uncover the best delis in London, and offer advice for travelling around Italy. I’m certified by Leith’s as a cooking demonstrator, and have consulted for a number of restaurants, delis, and brands.