Every morsel on the menu at Via Emilia, a modern, petite-sized pasta restaurant just off Hoxton Square, originates from the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. If you’re not up to speed on your Italian geography (I certainly wasn’t), this particular area counts parma ham, parmesan, balsamic vinegar and bolognese sauce as just a few of its delectable exports. So, with that in mind, there’s no way Via Emilia could not be good, right? Damn straight.
Let’s talk about the gnocco fritto. This deep-fried bread, traditional to Emilia-Romagna, is nothing like you’ve had before. Each piece is a warm, golden, hollow pillow of thin dough, crisp to touch but oh-so-soft to bite into. They’re light and buttery and you eat them with meat or cheese piled on top, or, as I did, with everything stuffed inside. Holy ravioli, what unadulterated deliciousness! Seriously, I think about them when I’m alone sometimes.
Each pasta dish is typical of a city within the region. Springy tagliatelle with ‘official’ bolognese sauce was wonderfully creamy (the traditional recipe from Bologna uses whole milk), alongside punchier flavours of red wine and salty pork mince. In another dish, silky slivers of sweated porcini mushrooms plucked from the Borgotaro Hills of Parma were woven among butter-soaked ribbons of thick pappardelle. Carbs don’t come much better than this.
The vibe is warm and friendly, though there’s still some Shoreditch cool here: think low-hung ceiling lamps and grey marbled counters. Not only is Via E affordable, it also takes reservations. And thank Christ for that. I need to know exactly when I’m getting another hit of that gnocco fritto.