Stevie Parle – the chef responsible for Dock Kitchen, Rotorino and Sardine – is something of a sweetheart of London’s foodie scene, so when we heard he was opening a new eatery in Clerkenwell, we couldn’t wait to try it out.
Palatino is the latest in Stevie’s line-up, occupying a former architect’s office in Clerkenwell. High ceilings, industrial windows and reclaimed lighting fixtures make for a smart, airy interior, accented by the restaurant’s signature grey and daffodil-yellow colour palette. Ever a man of taste, Stevie tells us the colour scheme was inspired by an Alfa Romeo he’d been coveting. He’s just come back from a weekend in New York, and is exhausted by the self-imposed challenge of eating in 25 restaurants in just two days. It’s impossible not to like Stevie Parle.
The food at Palatino is an homage to classic Roman cooking that lets the quality of the ingredients sing. We get stuck into the antipasti with deep-fried, lightly battered sage leaves dipped in sweetly sharp honey vinegar. Puntarelle – a chicory-like vegetable – is fresh, crunchy and smothered in anchovy dressing. Salt cod crudo with in-season blood orange and 2016 Cappenzana olive oil (you know an olive oil is going to be special when it gets its own vintage) is delicate and delicious.
And then comes the pasta… worth having skipped lunch to fill-up on. Bright green ravioli stuffed with sweet, orange squash is as pretty as it is tasty, and Bombolotti with ragu is about as comforting as comfort food gets. But the real stand-out is the rustic, hand-made gnocchi – dollops of it, crisped up on either side, soaking up their brown butter and sage sauce.
If you’ve got the appetite for it, the mains are equally delicious and come in Italian grandmother portions. We get very excited about the arrival of more gnocchi – this time smaller, firmer, deep-fried dumplings.
To go with all this beautiful food is a carefully considered wine list, arranged into three sections; Classico (wines typical of their region or grape), Unico (“off-beat”) and Speciale (‘occasion’ wines). We notice that each and every wine on the list can be ordered by the glass – this feels like a wine list put together by someone who loves exploring wine, and wants to share that with others. The knowledgeable manager selected a red and white for us from the ‘Unico’ section. Both were brilliant – particularly the Sette Vigne, a blend of all seven of Italy’s ‘Noble Grape’ varieties.
Brilliant food and wine at a reasonable price is sure to make this new restaurant a hit in the neighbourhood. They also now offer a breakfast menu with a few twists on their signature Roman cooking. We’re teased with the idea of a ‘breakfast carbonara’ – egg, bacon and pasta – something we’ll definitely be back to try.
We The Food Snobs x