The latest addition to east London’s food scene is all-day Italian restaurant Passo. Headed up by head chef Massimo Laquinoto who brings with him a wealth of authentic Italian experience, having trained at the two Michelin starred Locanda Don Serafino in south east Sicily and having since worked with the likes of Locatelli. He seems like a safe bet in my books and safe bet he is too…the food here speaks for itself. Ragu is my gauge when it comes to Italian dishes (as is pizza…in fact any pasta dish, I’m easily swayed!) and on both accounts this restaurant passes with flying colours. The wild boar pappardelle, taleggio, with a port sauce is one for those that crave the richest, most indulgent of dishes. Entirely decadently rich in fact, perfectly seasoned and plentiful in it’s portion. But before I get carried away with the pasta, small plates should not be overlooked. Fried artichokes with green sauce, a very fine blitzed salsa verde, perfectly simplistic, packed with heaps of flavour, just the right texture combination. Order two of these if your dining companion is keen to share, you won’t want to portion this up! Burrata, zucchini chips with a mint and basil oil again falls into the perfectly pared back category which champions quality produce, for a brief moment I thought that my summer of oding on burrata would kill any enthusiasm for this dish but luckily that wasn’t the case, fried courgette with mint scooped up with burrata, sea salt and freshly baked bread should never be overlooked or bypassed when on the menu! Beef and Mortadella meatballs in tomato sauce also find their way into our order, again rich but with a point of difference, and a welcome flavour combination.
From the salad section we opt for the Passo cesear minus any chicken. Delicious, anchovy heavy and crisp, a great breather in amongst the greediest of orders.
Ravioli from the pasta section is again on the rich side, filled with burrata and served with tomato and langoustines reduction, it’s a flavoursome and hearty dish that would be more than sufficient if ordered on it’s own.
Pizza here span a large part of the menu, with eight varieties listed. With it being an all-day eatery, serving up take away coffee, a lunch buffet and pizzas to go we had to at least try one…wild mushroom, spinach, gorgonzola and thyme takes our fancy, we watch in the open wood fire as it’s cooked up in the open kitchen.
This feels like a great additions to old streets food scene, with and outdoor dining area on the cards should the weather prevail and room to cater for large parties this restaurant should absolutely be on your list to try especial for those who are as avid a fan as I am of Italian cuisine.
We’ve even been able to nab the recipes for my favourite dish from the small plates, absolutely one worth giving a try at home./
Passo’s Artichoke Heart Antipasti Recipe
By Massimiliano Iaquinoto & Joe Hill
Artichokes are a classic Italian antipasti and we source ours from Puglia, a region of Italy famous for its artichokes. The town of San Fernando even holds an annual artichoke festival.
Recipe for our simple Fried Artichokes….
1½-2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (picked)
1 bunch of fresh basil (picked)
1 handful of fresh mint (picked)
1 small handful of capers
1 small handful of gherkins, in sweet vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
8 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
Artichoke hearts with stem in brine, 2 per portion
1 – 2 ltrs Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
Parmesan to finish
Peel the garlic and pick the herb leaves, then finely chop on a large board with the capers and gherkins.
Place in blender and add the mustard and vinegar, then slowly add the oil stirring it in until you achieve the right consistency. Blend until quite smooth.
Balance the flavours with black pepper, a bit of sea salt and maybe a little more vinegar.
Drain artichokes (overnight if possible) on a jay cloth
Cut in half and serve 2 artichokes per portion (4 halves)
Fry artichokes until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper before serving
Place Salsa verde on bottom of plate, fried artichokes on top. Top with grated parmesan or fennel tops