Il Cudega restaurant review
How’s this for a charming story? Luca and Giovanni have been friends since they were eight years old, and now they’ve opened a tiny restaurant and deli in one of London Field’s most unassuming railway arches. A simple place, full of simple pleasures – specifically the best organically-produced cheese, meats and wines from their home district of Lombardy, in Northern Italy.
See, I said it was a charming story. And it’s hard to resist the sheer Italian-ness of Il Cudega (it means ‘pork scratching’). The simplicity of the black-and-white decor. The intriguing wine list. The contents of that deli counter, which make your stomach rumble like Pavarotti’s after an ovation-winning aria.
We began with mellow prosciutto from Lake Como and indecently wet and wobbly balls of burrata cheese, the sourness of which was offset by piquant slices of black truffle. Slowly we moved on to warm, creamy pumpkin risotto, made with firm little pellets of barley. Lasagne, from the specials menu, was prettily stacked, and all about the dry, intensely meaty ragù. To finish, a little bowl of the best tiramisu we’ve ever tasted. Bitter chocolate, sweet yellow cream and a crunch boozy base – bliss.
Il Cudega is a place to drop in for a chat, drink a few glasses, inhale a plate of mixed salumi (a generous heap of meat for £12) and polish off an espresso. Then: mwah, mwah! Kiss Giovanni goodbye and its back to real life.
Though not everything’s quite perfect – you could accuse a few of the plates of being over-simplistic, and we'd love it if they were open in the evening – there’s no denying the power of the big story Luca and Giovanni are trying to tell. The one in which a small (and affordable) piece of Lombardy’s gastronomic culture fits in perfectly amongst the craft beer breweries of London Fields.