‘Homemade’ and ‘handcrafted’ are Emilia’s favourite words – appearing no less than seven times on the menu. This cute Aldgate corner joint wants to make its reverence for the art of pasta-making as clear as the polished glass frontage. Made fresh each morning with illustrations of each shape adorning the menu – from the recognisable rigatoni to the more unusual casarecce (short strips that appear to have curled up on themselves) – pasta provenance is its pride and joy.
The compact selection of seven mains (or eight, if you include the salmon carbonara swap) is pleasantly balanced between veggie and meaty. Rigatoni with flaked yellow tuna fillet and tomato sauce was given a satisfying kick with peperoncino, a type of Calabrian chilli pepper, while a salsa di noci (walnut sauce) dish had satisfying umami notes.
The non-pasta was less joyful: a buxom burrata was served with thin discs of fresh (from frozen) white baguette, green beans arrived wizened and wrinkly, topped with a bland pesto, and our desserts (salted caramel brownie and lemon cake) were tough around the edges. From its soft lighting to its admirable list of craft soft drinks, I was all set for Emilia’s to be the Franco Manca of pasta, but its over-egging of the ‘artisanal’ pudding set the dishes up for a fall. A solid choice for a quick, carby hit when you’re in the area, it’s not going to change your life, but it will certainly fill your belly.