Wolf, Stoke Newington

It seems there are more and more reasons to visit Stoke Newington, a hip area of East London which is thriving with stylish neighbourhood hangouts. Wolf Restaurant serves seasonal Italian food in a beautifully designed dining room.

Wolf RestaurantWolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

As I sat in the moody green room, with its hexagonal-tile floor and live wall of plants, I picked out features I’d like to add in to my flat. The tables, of course, are white marble, to help food instagrammers get the best possible shot.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

The menu included all my favourite Italian things: burrata, homemade pasta and rabbit. Wolf have recently introduced their new winter menu which features a range of comforting classics. We sampled the burrata with Puntarelle & Anchovy dressing with croutons, and the Pear & Bra salad. The burrata was a blissfully simple dish, but made with the finest ingredients, the cheese was creamy and oozing with indulgence with a contrasting salty dressing. The Pear salad reminded me of the warmer seasons, a lovely mix of bitter endive leaves, sweet honey mustard vinaigrette and a crunch from the hazelnuts scattered on top.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

The Pappardelle with braised rabbit ragu & chestnut has become the IT dish at Wolf, and luckily it did not disappoint. Strands of perfectly cooked homemade pasta were coated in a rich meaty sauce, and chestnuts were an unusual but brilliant addition. Priced at £16 a plate it is an expensive plate of pasta, but was a generous portion. The Gnudi (spinach and ricotta dumplings) was a more elegant plate of food, coated in a a parmesan sauce and decorated with crispy sage and roasted tomatoes… I found this dish less exciting and felt it needed some freshness to balance with the creamy sauce and rich dumplings.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

I would pick pasta over meat anyday, but in Italy they eat both so in the name of research we tasted two dishes from the secondi section of the menu too! Slow cooked beef short rib was richly flavoured with Chianti, and the tender meat fell easily away from the bone – it was served with velvety wet polenta and gremolata. The pork fillet was a little dry for my taste, but was served with an assortment of lovely ingredients: Delica Pumpkin puree, chanterelle mushrooms and kale.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

Desserts are often an afterthought in Italian restaurants, who fob diners off with gelato. Wolf exhibit true attention to detail in the sweet section of their menu. I was overwhelmed by the two sensational desserts we tried. Panna cotta with poached rhubarb and honeycomb was a beautiful plate of seasonal flavours, the rhubarb was nicely cooked with sugar to add sweetness and the panna cotta was the ideal consistency, flavoured with plenty of specks of real vanilla. Mandarin Flourless polenta cake was also wonderful, a light and textured cake flavoured with mandarin and dripping in chocolate ganache sauce.

I’m not sure there is anything better than delicious Italian food, and Wolf Restaurant is an asset to the Stoke Newington area. I live in South London but would travel for 40 minutes on the overground to eat a plate of that rabbit ragu any day of the week.

More information and book a table at Wolf restaurant here.

Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

It is no secret that homemade pasta is my absolute favourite thing to eat. So when I was notified about Emilia’s Crafted Pasta opening up in St. Katharine Docks I was keen to get along and try the food asap.

Emilia's Crafted Pasta

This charming neighbourhood eatery is tucked away amongst other food venues, all with a lovely waterside view of the docks. It is extremely convenient for nearby offices, who I imagine are delighted with this new Italian arrival, but is a bit of a trek if you don’t live or work in the vicinity.

I chatted briefly to owner Andrew Macleod and chef Simone Stagnitto about the inspiration behind the pasta bar and it’s offering. Together they hope to bring authentic and delicious homemade pasta to the city, the essence of Italian tradition, handcrafted in London.

Emilia's Crafted PastaEmilia's Crafted Pasta

The menu is short and sweet with a couple of starters and a range of pasta dishes to suit every palate. Parmesan balls were sadly off the menu when I visited so we settled for burrata with toasted ciabatta and extra virgin olive oil. It was, perhaps, the best burrata I have eaten in London, impossibly creamy and light, sprinkled with coarse black pepper and sea salt.

It was tempting to try one of each from the pasta list, but we restrained ourselves to three bowls between two of us. News of Simone’s exquisite pesto had reached me long before I visited Emilia’s so we had to try this simple dish. It was wonderful. We also ordered the bechamel bolognaise and the lamb ravioli. The bolognaise was indulgent and comforting, the perfect winter dish. Slow cooked for four hours the meat had a delicious depth of flavour, and I was pleased to see plenty of meat sauce coating the beautifully cooked pappardelle. The ravioli was filled with subtly-flavoured lamb and parsley, and then cooked in a light sage and butter sauce. I loved the filled pasta but felt the butter sauce could have been cooked for a little longer in order to give a more caramelised taste and crisp up the sage leaves. Emilia’s offer a few wine options, reasonably priced, and easy to drink with pasta.

Emilia's Crafted Pasta

For dessert we opted for lemon and polenta cake and affogato. The cake was our favourite, light and fragrant topped with flaked almonds, yoghurt and honey.

If you are in the area I would definitely recommend popping into Emilia’s for a delicious bowl of pasta. The restaurant also hope to offer pasta masterclasses too so you can learn the Italian secrets to help you make perfect pasta at home.

More information and book a table at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta here.

Radio Alice Pizzeria, Hoxton Square

You can satisfy just about any foodie craving in and around Hoxton Square… from Vietnamese pho to burgers and even fine dining. And now, at last, there is a great pizzeria to tempt diners too. Radio Alice is named after a 1970s pirate radio station from Bologna and was opened by brothers Salvatore and Matteo Aloe, who have numerous restaurants in Italy.

Radio Alice Pizzeria

The classic Italian menu features ‘Piccoli’ small plates including wonderfully flavoursome ‘Speck & apricots’ and creamy ‘Burrata with black pepper and oregano’. Pair these perfect antipasti plates with a glass of the lightly sparkling ‘Brut and the beast’.

Radio Alice PizzeriaRadio Alice Pizzeria

The brothers aim to make their pizza bases both crispy and fluffy by using a mother yeast and ancient stone ground flour. They cook and cut the base first, adding the luxurious toppings after. The ‘pizze’ menu is divided between ‘with’ or ‘without’ a tomato base, both are delicious. Opt for the decadent ‘Proscuitto di Parma, burrata, orange infused oil with fiordilatte’, or the meat-lovers dream ‘Pork sausage with pecorino, tomato, black pepper’. The bases were chunky but not overly filling and the toppings really had the chance to shine, thanks to generous helpings and the clever cooking method.

Radio Alice Pizzeria

I couldn’t resist trying a few desserts from the sweet menu. The simple ‘Chocolate gelato’ was delightful, rich and moreish. For grown-up kids the ‘Bourbon vanilla gelato, anise biscuit’ is an indulgent ice-cream sandwich, with a chewy biscuit and whisky flavoured gelato. If you are after something light and palate-cleansing after a pizza feast try the ‘Mandarin and tonka bean’, a light and fruit homemade sorbet.

Radio Alice is a fun restaurant which is serious about making authentic and tasty pizzas. Based in the heart of Hoxton, I’m sure it will be a hit with hipsters hanging around in the area, day and night.

More information and book a table here.