Looking for a regional Italian restaurant in London? Read our expert review of Via Emilia by FOOD ROOTS, a cosy Italian restaurant in north London
Via Emilia in a nutshell
An intimate 40-cover restaurant just off Hoxton Square focusing on food and wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
Christian Pero is the man behind Food Roots, the concept that oversees Via Emilia and sister restaurant, In Parma. While the latter focuses specifically on charcuterie, cheese and pasta from Parma, Via Emilia zeroes in on the Emilia-Romagna province using produce sourced exclusively from this northern Italian region.
What’s the vibe like?
Dark and intimate, wood-panelled walls are warmed up by low-hanging lights and marble surfaces, and a mirrored wall on one side of the restaurant gives the appearance of more space.
A cosy bar area with high stools is surrounded by wine bottles on display, while a gentle hum of Italian flows from the staff as well as most of the neighbouring tables.
How does the menu work?
Every dish on the menu is written in the dialect local to Emilia Romagna with its city of origin next to it. Although the menu is split into starters and mains, all of the dishes work best shared as a table.
Starters include the restaurant’s famed gnocco fritto (soft, gently-fried bread) as well as a selection of three semi-hard, hard or soft cheeses and meats to order alongside. You can choose between eight main dishes, the majority vegetarian, all served with homemade fresh egg pasta.
Which dishes should we order at Via Emilia?
Lightly fried, pillowy gnocco fritto are best torn apart and spread generously with squacquerone – a mild, creamy soft cheese from the Cesena region which we polished off swiftly. Wafer-thin slithers of peppery salame felino, prosciutto crudo and silky coppa made for a moreish salty snack.
Delicate al dente parcels of ravioli were filled with creamy ricotta, earthy spinach and soaked in a rich sage butter sauce (that we’d have happily welcomed more of) before being topped generously with parmesan.
If you want a meaty option choose the bolognese ragu, a rich sauce of beef and pork, served with perfectly cooked tagliatelle.
What’s dessert like?
Dessert is an easy decision to make, either order the tiramisu or don’t. It’s a light way to finish the meal as the serving is small, with the classic creamy, coffee soaked texture and cocoa flavour you’d expect. Try our Bailey’s tiramisu recipes here…
What are the drinks like at Via Emilia?
As with the food, the wine list focuses on those made in the region, with a large section dedicated to red and white sparkling. Our waiter suggested a red sparkling lambrusco from the coastal city of Reggio which was fruity yet crisp. A refreshing fizz to wash down a plate of hearty bolognese with.
There’s also a succinct selection of non-sparkling red and whites, and just one beer, ORA that comes from a small brewer in Modena.
What else should we know?
When we arrived early evening the restaurant was very quiet, so if you want there to be more of a buzz book a table for later on.