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Restaurants, Italian Clerkenwell
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A restaurant from Stevie Parle focussing on the food of Rome.

Like an Italian suit, Palatino is minimalist and modish, with a distinctly masculine edge. But, on my Saturday night visit, eight weeks after opening – as in, there should really be no excuses – it was frustrating. Frustrating because this is a restaurant from Stevie Parle (Dock Kitchen, Rotorino etc), whose team should know better. Know better than to oversalt the dishes, or serve ‘secondi’ well over an hour after ‘primi’, say.

Because when the ‘Roman-inspired’ food shines, it dazzles. The pasta, in particular, was a delight. A simple dish of little-seen tonnarelli (‘guitar spaghetti’) was served with one of my all-time favourite sauces: cacio e pepe. As in, cheese (a nicely sharp pecorino) and pepper. It allowed the beautifully al dente pasta to sing. Then came rigatoni – the short, fat tubes – topped with veal ‘pajata’, a classic from the capital city. What’s that? Oh yes, intestine. The taste and texture is a little like kidney, set against a mellow, celery-studded sauce.

Later (much, much later), a slab of crackling-edged pork appeared, followed by smoky onglet steak, cut into butch, ruby-middled chunks. Both beautifully cooked but painfully oversalted. As was the swiss chard salad, with its bitter leaves and glistening pomegranate seeds. Please, for chrissakes, lay off the salt.

Palatino has potential: a knockout dish of tangy cherries, artful streaks of sweet whipped cream and a chocolate sphere with a bitter, semi-freddo centre, was further proof of that. But it needs to sharpen up its game, and pronto.


Address: 71 Central Street
Transport: Tube: Old St
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £100.
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