Shoreditch is traditionally associated with the bustle of city-workers, start-ups, and a general hub of frenetic activity. The length of lunches is limited by time and meetings, but lockdown, as with all else, has changed everything.
Nestled on Shoreditch High Street is Burro e Salvia, which on a grey Friday, with its bright warm yellow sign, contrasted greatly with the dismay of the outside world, and was a welcome reprieve.
As you enter it feels as if you are entering a spacious Tuscan house, and at a time when space is quite literally part of a national motto, the feeling is very welcome. The restaurant is stylishly decorated with a rustic wooden floor and white and yellow walls opening up the venue even more so. Granite tables and warming lights add to the feeling of homeliness.
Further adding to this feeling is the fact I am lunching with my housemate, R, as per the government rules. Despite living together, we very rarely lunch together, so it is a surprising occasion and one which we celebrate with a lovely white wine which is light and flavourful enough to taste nice, but not overpowering or too dry.
This pairs delightfully with the wafer thin carasau bread; the indulgence of the sundried tomatoes; the sharpness of the olives, and the freshly cut chunks of Parmigiana which, for pure cheese, does not taste too heavy. The flavours complement one another in perfect measure; the sundried tomatoes are oily but not too oily; the Parmigiana nutty and authentic; and the carasau which is refreshingly light brings it all together neatly.
The authenticity and freshness of the ingredients makes all the difference to the taste, observes R, clearly impressed. It takes a lot to elicit praise from her, so that in itself is a compliment.
R arrived slightly before me, and, wary of her gluten consumption, told me she asked if “they had anything apart from pasta.” I laughed and informed her their speciality is… homemade pasta, but all the same we tried the wonderfully creamy burrata with artichoke as a starter, recommended by our very helpful server. Artichoke is the kind of vegetable that I always forget about until I go to a restaurant which serves it in an incredible style, and I kick myself for not eating it more often. This was one of those occasions; the artichoke in itself is so elegant looking and alongside the ridiculously aesthetic burrata with a bright green oil artistically drizzled over it made it a match made in heaven. Again, it was delightfully fresh, and, paired with the remnants of the carasau wafer, was all the more satisfying.
At this stage we were both so satisfied I almost forgot we hadn’t even arrived at the main course: pasta. We both opted (perhaps unoriginally) for black truffle pastas – one triangoli with Pumpkin and the other tagliatelle with porcini.
The parcels of pumpkin pasta looked so homemade and delicate and tasted delightful with the black truffle artfully splayed on top adding to the indulgence of the dish. The sweetness of the pumpkin complemented by the saltiness of the butter and the freshness of the pasta was all divine – truly a testament to the labour of homemade pasta and a dish I would return for in a heartbeat. The tortellini was more earthy and paired wonderfully with the meatiness of the porcini and the flavour of the black truffle.
Despite having eaten more than I had for lunch all week in one entire sitting, we could not resist trying the hazelnut and pear crostata which we saw our neighbouring table try. It was more than worth it but a buttery salty crunchy homemade base offsetting the sweet, but not sickly, pear compote. Truly delicious and with not a mouthful left, but not a shred of remorse, we called it an afternoon with a flat white and cappuccino to wash it down.
Perhaps it is the now sparse nature of lunches that makes one appreciate them all the more, but particularly when the calibre of the food is so high and well prepared it makes all the difference.
The set menu is incredibly reasonable for its location and quality too with a three-course menu only setting you back £28, which is often merely the price of a main dish in similar establishments.
Pasta is one of those dishes which many think they can make at home, but it’s only when you dine at places like Burro e Salvia that you realise how far removed what we make is from the original thing. As I write, visiting restaurants is prohibited, but there is a great delivery menu on offer so you can enjoy the fresh homemade pasta in the comfort of your own home – a lockdown indulgence that is truly worth your time.
Burro e Salvia, 52 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DP, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 4429
The restaurant is just a few minutes’ walk from Shoreditch High Street Overground station and about an eight-minute walk from Old Street station on the Northern Line.
Currently there is a takeaway service available between 11:30am and 4:00pm.
Type of Restaurant: Casual Italian Café Style Restaurant
Price Band: Medium
Insider Tip: Try the pumpkin and black truffle pasta!
Reviewer’s Rating: 9.5/10
Maighna Nanu is a London based freelance journalist.
Photographs courtesy of Burro e Salvia