La Pesa | An Intimate, Candlelit Gem in Shoreditch
It’s not easy to walk past La Pesa at around suppertime on a cold night.
The glass door flickers with the warm orange glow of candlelight, illuminating huddled diners feasting on hearty plates of Italian food. It’s like an intimate restaurant tractor beam that practically drags you inside. And you’ll be glad it did. Because La Pesa is a no-bookings, walk-in only gem of a restaurant that’s been set up as a rotating residency, handing over the keys to the kitchen to a consistently impressive lineup of chefs for two weeks at a time. And so far they’ve been very, very good.
The place itself is a postage stamp of a space, with concrete walls and wood furnishings living comfortably together, underscored by the giddy chatter of diners sitting elbow-to-elbow. The petite bar that takes up half the room wraps itself in a petticoat of wine bottles, which doubles as their cellar. And behind this bar is where the magic happens, with the whole kitchen operation confined to a small corner of a small room – but from which they can produce cathedrals of flavour.
See that candle? It’s made of brown butter.
The person currently commanding the pass is the owner himself, chef Davide Pastorino, a man whose name is a perfect anagram of ‘divine pasta door’. Coincidence? Yes, probably. But also very apt? Yes, definitely. He’s plating up a menu of elegant, but nevertheless casual dishes drawn from the repertoire he developed at the original La Pesa, which basks on the coast of Northern Italy.
If you catch his stint in the kitchen, then you should without doubt order the sourdough to start – it comes with a brown-butter candle that slowly melts into a molten pool that you can dip your bread into. After that, virtually anything you spring for will be a hit – meaty scallop gratin with ‘nduja; earthy chestnut tagliatelle with artichoke & mint; creamy burrata with persimmons & coffee ground; rich pumpkin tiramisu – all of it is delicious.
Ruby red beetroot & ricotta tortellini with butter & sage
To drink there are a few cocktails and aperitifs, or you can dip into that wine cellar that snakes its way along the bar and up on the shelves above you, showing off a neatly curated lineup of both natural & regular bottles.
And it won’t be easy to walk past them, either.
NOTE: La Pesa is open now, Wednesday to Sunday 7pm – 10pm. There are no bookings. You can find out more, and see who’s currently in the kitchen at their Insta page right here.
La Pesa | 73 Rivington St, EC2A 3AY
While you’re in the neighbourhood… you should check out the best bars in Shoreditch
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