Take A Tour Of Emilia-Romagna At This New Shoreditch Italian
The people behind Food Roots and W1 restaurant In Parma have rolled up in Hoxton Square with their second restaurant, Via Emilia. Bringing with them what might now be our favourite Italian carbs in east London.
That's a big claim when you stack it up against the area's big Italian community, and array of chewy Neapolitan pizza crusts and ragu-studded pastas. But we stand by it.
Via Emilia is a small spot, and unassuming: enough low tables and wooden stools to fit 40 covers, warm lighting, quiet music. It all adds up to a low-key intimacy, especially when you factor in the food — all of it simple and warming, and a lot of it no-cutlery.
The menu's built around the fierce regionality of Italian cooking traditions, each pasta attributed to its birthplace and named in that dialect. We share, shuttling between Modena (the turtlèin in brôd: small, meat-stuffed ravioli in a rich broth) and Parma (the tajadlén’ni al pramzan e pep: tagliolini velvety with parmesan and pepper, like a parallel evolution Roman cacio e pepe).
Our pastas, and the ruby dark, bone-dry Lambruscos on the wine list — ones that converted our fizzy-red-sceptic guest — might be enough alone to have us back here on the (extremely) regular. But there's also the gnocco fritto.
A speciality of the house, they're little, puffy pillows of fried bread. But infinitely lighter and more delicate than images involving dough and frying might conjure up, they're served oven-hot, and as anything from starter to aperitivo snack to full-blown dinner.
We stuff ours with squacquerone, a young, gloopy white cheese from Romagna. And follow it with the Crudo platter's poetic scattering of provenances: Piacenza pancetta, Parma prosciutto, Felino salami — all silk-thin and intensely meaty, with fat marbling that starts melting butterily under the heat of our gnocco fritto.
It's true, we're smitten. But it's hard to think of who this small, lovely spot wouldn't suit — except maybe anybody with a fixation on formality, which there isn't much of here. Even gluten-avoiders are gathered tenderly into the Via Emilia embrace, thanks to a gluten-free tagliatelle option available with any of their sauces (though you'll be left pining for the gnoccho fritto, still off limits).
As for us, we'll be back and charting a Lambrusco and carb-heavy course through the menu again before long.
Via Emilia by FOOD ROOTS, 37a Hoxton Square, N1 6NN.
Last Updated 25 March 2018