Emilia's is like your local greengrocer or a neighbour who’s always signing for parcels when you’re away. It’s an amenity you’re grateful to have for all the right reasons.
The restaurant itself is named after Emilia-Romagna, the north Italian region whose refinements in the art of rolling pasta and lush ingredients are admired even by Italians from other parts of the country - and that’s really saying something.
As you enter Emilia's in Aldgate you instantly get the feeling that you are in for a proper, no-nonsense treat. Modest décor, sporting a charm that makes you feel at ease the moment you enter. The familiarity of the menu is quite refreshing in this day and age too, no need to google any weird ingredients that sound alien-like. You instantly feel comfortable, just like you're at Nonna's for lunch.
The starters at Emilia's are more than respectable, fulsome burrata with crunchy sourdough drizzled with organic extra virgin olive oil, letting the ingredients naturally speak for themselves. But if you even so much as dabble in the religion of carbohydrates, I would strongly suggest you focus your attention on the plates of pasta, that's what we're all here for after all. Emilia's pasta is freshly made every morning using techniques that have been past down from generations. The ethos here is that pasta should be served in a casual way and with generosity. Here here.
As I tucked into my 4-hour slow-cooked béchamel pappardelle bolognese, I smiled. The thick ribbons of pasta are cooked perfectly al dente, and the ragù manages to be lavishly creamy but maintain the ground meat texture. Served with a snowfall of parmesan this is a must-order.
The ravioli was next, parcels of organic lamb, parsley and parmesan paddling happily in a buttery sage sauce. Each pouch holds its cargo perfectly without being too heavy. Perfectly thin, with a plenteous filing can only be described as a flavour bomb. As far as winning friends and influencing new diners goes, the ravioli will go a long way.
Studying the dessert menu, I was pretty disappointed to hear that there was no signature tiramisu, however, all was forgiven once I had a spoon of the mascarpone ice cream topped with crushed amaretti and cantuccini biscuits, swirled with honey. A heroically wonderful way to finish a meal, sweet, creamy and a nod to simplicity.
Restaurants such as Emilia's which are full of confidence but not ego, don't happen by magic, nor very often. Casual Italian is hardly a new "concept" but the sheer volume of operators suddenly turning their attention to fresh pasta is. The foundations here are solid, so are the accessories and I doubt there are many places which will leave you feeling so well cared for. Emilia's has a clear and articulate formula: fresh, crafted pasta, that’s it, 'nothing fancy' but it is a pretty bold statement when a restaurant nails their flag to the wall and says, this is what I do; take it or leave it. I'll take it, thanks very much.
Available from the 2nd - 31st December, guests can choose from two courses plus any drink for only £19 per person or three courses plus and drink for £23 per person. Available to both walk-ins and pre-booked. Not valid after 5 pm on Friday and Saturdays or on New Year’s eve.
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Chatting Food Contributor: Erica Pilavaki
Born in Cyprus but now living in London, Erica has an insatiable appetite for good food and tasty drinks!
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