Gluten Free & Just, Well, Delicious – La Polenteria, Soho

30 Jun 2016

Coming across La Polenteria when walking through SoHo one afternoon, I stopped dead in my tracks and, mesmerised, grabbed my friend by the arm. “Gluten. Free. Italian. Kitchen.” Immediately, my thoughts went to all the things I missed so dearly: firm, flavoursome fresh pasta, chunky lasagnes, little pillows of succulent ravioli. The thought of being in an Italian restaurant and being able to order -anything- off the menu? Good heavens.

From the moment we stepped inside the small restaurant, we were made to feel like members of an extended family. Sat by the door, we saw the same look of appreciation as each set of new diners were greeting in the same way. Warm, cosy, and at ease, I devoured the menu feverishly, secure in the knowledge that there was going to be no need for discussions of food allergies or ingredient substitutions.

We started with Parmigiana, served with Burrata Mousse and Crispy Polenta. I must admit, I had never tried burrata (a cheese made from mozzarella and cream), but this was the perfect introduction. Served layered with aubergine and sweet sundried tomatoes, as soon I had my first taste, I knew I was in for a satisfying meal.

Now, I’m a sharer. If I go to a restaurant with you, I WILL insist that we carefully dissect the menu, item by item, come to a resolute agreement, and then share those meals. Any indecisiveness that can’t be solved by (often heated) debate is then deferred to the waiter – and their decision is final. The losing party is allowed no ands, ifs, or buts, and the winning party generally sips at their wine in smug triumph (in this case, a glass each of the rich Benaco Bresciano).

Everything on the menu looked too good to be decided upon in a timely fashion, so with the help of the waiter we decided upon Polenta Gnocchi with Truffle Cheese, and Homemade Beef Ravioli with Balsamic Reduction, Pine Nuts and Raisins.

The Polenta Gnocchi was the favourite of my accompanying friend. It was light but firm, and the truffle sauce was a simple yet satisfying addition. My favourite, however, was the Beef Ravioli, and in my mind, no words will do it justice. With the addition of the sweetness of the raisins and the crunch of the pine nut, I savoured every mouthful.

La Polenteria did not disappoint. I loved the experience of an entirely gluten free kitchen, both for the peace of mind, and the quality of the food. But the biggest testament to La Polenteria came from my blissfully allergy-free friend, who sighed with contentment after the meal whilst remarking, ‘If I hadn’t had known beforehand, I would not have guessed any of that was gluten free.’

There you have it, my gluten-free comrades. Go forth, secure in the knowledge your friends won’t hate you for taking them to the only gluten free Italian kitchen in London (or maybe even the UK).


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