Palatino, Clerkenwell

This is the latest one from Stevie Parle (he’s the chap who brought us Rotorino, Dock Kitchen, Sardine and Craft) and it is house in the ground floor of a new ‘pro-working’ space in Clerkenwell called Fora.

The name Palatino is both an ancient hill in Rome and a Roman font, which the logo on the menu is printed in. The food, as you might have guessed, also specialises in all things Roman.

We start with fried sage leaves (£3) with a sharp honey vinegar – perfect for cutting through the grease. An ice cold beer and a plate of that and I’d be happy. Another snack is anchovy and stracciatella on toast (£3.50) which are lovely little morsels.

Puntarelle salad (£5) comes drenched in an anchovy sauce which is pungent in the very best of ways. Puntarelle is a variant of chicory by the way.

Ravioli filled with squash (£8) has vibrantly green yet light and thin pasta. In fact, all the pasta we try is rather good. Tonnarelli cacio e pepe (£6.50) may not get you ‘standing on your chair waving your hankie in the air’ like you might at Padella but it’s still a mighty fine plate of food. Bombolotti (£8), a cross between penne and macaroni, is the perfect shape to hold all that lovely ragu – the recipe of which is a homage to Marcella Hazan – cookbook author and queen of Italian cooking.

For secondi, a thick cut pork chop (£17) has that thing I never quite manage to achieve at home; soft, tender meat with crisp fat. It comes topped with a light drizzle of anchovy cream which is a great bedfellow.

Onglet steak (£12.50) sees chunks of bright red meat with the slight chewiness you get from onglet matched with huge flavour. Bream with onions and pine nuts and raisins (£17.50) is light and lovely.

You’ll need sides (all £4). Get the fried potato gnocchi, all crispy and salty, and borlotti beans for some sustenance. A small dish of swiss chard is just a bit too bitter for me.

For pud, the three of us share the quince, almond and rosemary tart (£6) which is on the kitchen counter. The pastry is buttery and the light rosemary flavour comes through in a surprisingly enjoyable way.

A few minor niggles (the Josper Grill in the open kitchen has a mighty loud slam on it and I’d love a linen napkin as opposed to a paper one) didn’t spoil what was a thoroughly good meal at Palatino. Service was solid too – like the restaurant had been there ages. And I’m sure it will be.

Would we go back? Yes.
We dined as guests of the restaurant