Last chance for a sizzling Sicilian
Final fortnight of pop-up restaurant that’s serving up memorable dishes
22 June, 2018 — By Tom Moggach
Round off brunch at Strazzanti with a pastry – including Emilia’s gluten-free cakes made from rare almonds
YOU’VE got only a fortnight to catch Strazzanti, a Sicilian pop-up restaurant in Warren Street serving a sizzling Sunday brunch.
The young chef Emilia cooks from the heart. Poached eggs on sourdough toast arrives three ways – each inspired by the trio of sisters behind the family business.
The Emilia is piled with fragrant fennel sausage and pecorino; Sofia with chunks of squidgy aubergine and parmesan; the Nina offers a subtle contrast of fresh and salted ricotta.
All luxuriate in a slow-cooked tomato sauce, inspired by their grandmother’s recipe, and cost around £10.
The Sicilian ingredients, which they import direct, are top quality.
Indulge in a pastry stuffed with pistachio frangipane and pistachio cream (£3.75) or glass of prosecco with blood orange juice (£6.50).
The venue is an unfancy Italian restaurant called Seventeen 0 Seven in Warren Street, which closes its doors every Sunday. Emilia, the chef, supplies them with their cakes, so twisted the arm of the owner.
With Sicilian and Neapolitan parents, Emilia’s backstory is typical of many Italian families who built a life here. Her dad’s uncle was a prisoner of war in the Midlands; her aunty fell in love with a British army officer.
As a child, she helped her grandfather in the kitchen. “I only found out when he passed away that he was a cook for the Italian army – he was obsessed by food,” she says. She later trained in top-flight Michelin-starred restaurants before launching Strazzanti.
The arancini (£4.25) at Strazzanti were among the best I’ve tried outside of Italy: crisp, light and filled with molten mozzarella, spinach and ham.
Just as memorable are Emilia’s signature gluten-free cakes, £4.50 a slice, which she wholesales to restaurants around London. Flavours include pistachio and lemon or a creation made with five rare varieties of almonds from the Val di Noto region of the island.
We wandered home dreaming of Sicily, with a quick detour to Richardson’s Mews around the corner – a secret, plant-filled oasis in Fitzrovia.
Book for brunch now if you fancy it – last dates are June 24 and July 1, 10am-2.30pm.
Next month, Emilia and her sisters will be popping up at Hackney City Farm to host two supper clubs on July 26 and 27. If you’ve never been, the Frizzante café there is a marvel – a rustic-style restaurant built in their barn.
Emilia will use ingredients from local east London suppliers including E5 Bakehouse, Dagenham Farm and Our London Vodka, which uses British wheat for its fiery spirits.
The menu will feature more arancini, grilled courgettes with mint and a pasta dish topped with aubergine and salted ricotta. Tickets cost £35.
Few islands can boast the mixed culinary heritage of Sicily, a cultural melting pot over the millennia. This is an inspiration for Emilia, she says, as the chef plans her next gastronomic adventure with Strazzanti.
23 Warren Street, W1T
Reservations: 07896 262582