I love Italian food, so was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to visit Rucoletta, a quaint Italian restaurant, just a stone’s throw from St Paul’s cathedral. What exactly is Italian food? Ask many this question and they will tell you “pasta and pizza”. Even if it were “just” pasta and pizza, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a cuisine so refined. Wikipedia states that Italian food is tomatoes, all kind of meat and fish and pecorino cheese. I was about to put this to the test.
Although I had opted for an early dinner with my companion, I was surprised and rather pleased to see how busy the restaurant was at just after 6pm – especially as it is so close to One New Change shopping centre in St Paul’s. We took a seat on the upper floor which had a lovely glass roof offering lots of light. A nice card offering us a free glass of prosecco awaited us at our table, a nice touch.
Always up for trying new dishes and sharing, we asked the waiter what he recommended for starters. We decided on Burata con Verdure and Polpettone al Sugo. I tried burata for the first time a couple of months ago when a friend ordered it. I had never had it before. On the surface, it looks like a ball of buffalo mozzarella, but when you cut into it, it has an oozy soft centre – think Cadbury’s Crème Egg but with cheese. That image not working for you? Oh well you’ll just have to give it a try then! The burata was served on top of a bed of rocket, chargrilled aubergine and peppers. Essentially this was an antipasti, complemented by the bread basket we had.
Polpettone al Sugo was a new thing for both my companion and me. It was a veal and beef meat loaf stuffed with baked ham, mozzarella and parmesan and topped with a marinara style tomato sauce and peppers, olives and capers on the side. It was out of this world! Such a delightful taste and yet not too much at all considering the mouthful of ingredients! I was quite pleased at how adventurous we were being as it’s all too easy for me usually to go to an Italian and have calamari, bruschetta or garlic bread – and they actually had these on the menu! Well, almost all of them. When I knew we would be dining on Italian fare, I had got my hopes up for some garlic bread. What can I say! I have a slight addiction to the stuff! I asked the waiter if they had it and he kind of looked at me in distaste “nooo, we don’t do that here…” Kind of wanted my linen napkin to absorb and hide my uncultured rosy cheeks…
For mains, we decided to do the sharing thing again, and taking recommendation from our waiter, opted for two seafood dishes. One of prawns, squid, clams and mussels on a bed of tagliatelle, and another simpler dish of lobster, prawns and mussels served with toasted ciabatta slices. I was in absolute seafood heaven, almost in Sicily rather than the City. Both involved getting elbow deep to de-shell prawns and tuck into the lobster – but was totally worth it.
Having now explored a modern take on staple Italian dishes, we were now keen to see what dessert had instore, and would it be Italian? Well, all the usual suspects were there. Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, Gelato (I cannot help but put on my terrible interpretation of an Italian accent as I say these names). My companion chose a lemon sorbet, but didn’t expect the presentation to be so extravagant!
It reminded me of something Heston Blumenthal would produce from his kitchen! A scooped out lemon, frozen and filled with sorbet, topped with an amaretti biscuit. A real treat to look at! I opted for a slightly “safer” Caprese al Cioccolato; a traditional flourless chocolate and almond cake served with vanilla ice cream. Although I am not much of a sweet tooth, I do have a weakness for chocolate cake and this was GOOD – I had no guilt knowing it was flourless (I really don’t know why this is a good thing, but let’s just pretend it is).
For me, the best thing about visiting Rucoletta, was discovering a fantastic new hidden gem. This is one of the things I truly love about my tastecard reviews, finding somewhere that I would genuinely come back to. Especially when it’s my favourite cuisine.
As a parting note, look how beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral is? It is less than a two minute walk from Rucoletta! That’s as good a reason as any to get here right away!
Disclaimer: I was invited to review Rucoletta by tastecard.
Love FoodieClaire x