An evening of Italian inspiration at Trattoria 51, Whitechapel

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Italian inspiration

His & Hers has always been a great fan of Trattoria 51, that originally launched in Southport, and made a great splash. Then it made a memorable appearance in Liverpool, Old Hall Street, and has now opened with a star studded cast in Whitechapel.

WORDS: Jean Hill

Absorbing the menu is like stepping out to eat in Puglia or Florence. It is no surprise that there are lots of pasta shapes associated with Puglia as well as breads. Orecchiette (‘little ears’) is by far the most famous: you might well see mature women making them by the hundreds in Puglia’s streets. There is also troccoli (like a thicker spaghetti), sagne (rolled ribbons of fettuccine) and capunti (said to resemble open pea pods). I was excited to discover Orecchiette alla Monzese, with fresh pork sausage, Gorgonzola and white wine on the menu. It is one to try next time.

Stepping inside the Whitechapel Trattoria 51 was like stepping into sunshine on a dark and dismal evening. Rain might have been dampening our spirits, but we left all that behind us as we stepped into warmth and light. The décor is cosmopolitan café with elegant seating and wide accommodating spaces. The staff are friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. Attilio and Toni grew up on the Adriatic coastline, and really know how to deliver on freshly caught, beautifully prepared sea-food.

The menu is an ode to regional Italian food, I was spoilt for choice: fresh pasta and delicious creamy sauces, or pizza or lasagne, or risotto. I opted for steamed sea bass fillets with vegetable risotto. My companion was tempted by the crab risotto with creamy saffron sauce. It was all wonderful. We sampled sun-ripened tomatoes on pasta dough base. The dough is wafer thin, crispy, full of honest to goodness flavour, and mouth-wateringly fresh. There is an art to making risotto (it can never be allowed to dry out, splashes of dry white wine help), and this had total moisture with an underlying vegetable bonanza. Dipping into the menu I find mention of white wine butter with asparagus. We loved it all.

The strawberry cheesecake was a creamy, whole strawberry delight. We smiled all the way back to the Station. It might still have been raining: it was of no matter. Italian food is not just for Christmas, but it is as good a time to cultivate a good habit as any.

Almost all items on the menu are available gluten-free. And bambinos get a special deal with pizza or pasta, gelato and juice.

Tel. 0151 2360411

Related read: Trattoria 51 sets sights on expansion with third restaurant

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