A meal at Via Emilia, Hoxton Square
Via Emilia comes from an ancient Roman road that still crosses the region connecting the main cities
In fact, the menus of Via Emilia, a fairly new restaurant in Hoxton Square, depicts the region itself and such road connecting the various towns from north to south. The region has a number of specialties that made it famous across Italy and beyond from Parmigiano Reggiano to Parma ham, from hand made tagliatelle to mortadella.
Offering just 40 covers, Via Emilia is intimate yet light and airy; with its traditional white marble and dark stained wood, the interior combines the conventional with quirky use of aged steel, copper and caged displays adding a modern twist to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
The mouthwatering choices on Via Emilia’s menu span from a variety of starters including cold cuts platters and cheeses to a selection of pasta primi, each listing the city of provenance. This, I found particularly helpful to get to know the particularity of each plate.
Challenging (at least for a southerner like me) are the names! But fun too, as we enlisted the help of the waiter to pronounce our choices.
The wine list is also regional, and we opted for a light, fruity glass of Lambrusco to accompany our food, a wine sometime considered ‘cheap’ yet the labels in Via Emilia are way better than the average and we really enjoyed our lunchtime tipple.
We started by sharing a portion of Gnocco Fritto, one of the region’s carbs delicacies. I haven’t tried many, but I have to admit, Via Emilia’s was by far the best I have ever had: crispy outside, really soft inside, warm and delicately fried. We enjoyed it with a bowl of Squaquerone, the local soft cheese, light and slightly acidic, creamy and cool against the warm dough.
My primo of choice was Reginetti aj fonz, a dish from Parma with mushrooms as well as porcini from Borgotaro (mountain region). While I rarely treat myself to pasta, I was delighted to eat this dish and not feel guilty. The pasta was perfect, great consistency, with a good bite, the cooking was spot on and the mushrooms were absolutely wonderful, a rich flavour of earthiness and wintry comfort.
My dining companion also opted for a vegetarian plate (there are quite a few on the entire menu), a classic Turte veird, square ravioli with spinach, ricotta and Parmigiano with a simple butter and sage dressing, which looked and tasted great.
Sadly we only had time to enjoy a coffee and had to rush back to the office, missing out on desserts… I’d have surely opted for another classic, a tiramisu. Next time, for sure.
Does London need another pasta restaurant? Well, if done well and properly, why not. Capitalising on the recent trend that seems to have gripped the capital, Via Emilia offers in fact more than just pasta.
While the venue was empty during our visit, it was a late mid week lunchtime. The restaurant is small but located right in the middle of Hoxton Square food mecca, we have no doubt it would be way busier during the evening service.
The food was authentic and extremely satisfying; while nothing ground breaking it really does do the region of Emilia Romagna justice. I am looking forward to visiting again and trying more of their dishes.
Pastabites was a guest of Via Emilia; opinions are my own.