The best thing about London is the never ending choice of great places to eat. Once in a while, we come across restaurants that are truly unique with delicious honest food that you just want to tell all your foodie friends.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of experiencing the food at In Parma by Food Roots in Fitrovia. This unique Italian restaurant is tucked away on a small quiet pedestrian lane parallel to Charlotte Street. Unusually, this place was conceived as a business idea while the owner was embarking on his MBA and was not dreamed up by an aspiring chef. As all Italians, they are passionately loyal to their own local region, foodwise and we are so lucky in London that they like to share their abundance produce and specialties.
In Parma is not a very big restaurant. At lunch time, it doubles as deli where you can buy food to takeaway too. It’s not a very big space, the room is dominated with a bar on the right, a cosy nook in the window and a few smaller tables at the back. The back wall is dominated by a revolving slide show of happy customers drinking their lambrusco, served in the traditional way in a bowl.
The decor is contemporary with a rustic twist, hams hanging from the ceiling and unfinished woods shelves to emphasise the artisanal nature of their food. The menu is like a culinary tour of the best of small producer in and around Parma in Italy. They have handpicked the products that they serve in the restaurant and most have the PDO or PGI designation. At first glance, the menu might seem to be dominated by just cheese and cold meats but they do have a selection of hot dishes which are changed daily.
The wine list is eclectic and is also hand selected from small producers with prices starting at £20 and quite a few are served by the glass too.
After a lengthy explanation of the concept and the menu, our meal kicks off with a selection of aged Parmigiano which is served on a wooden tray and is arranged by age, from 12 months to 36 months. I love my aged Parmigiano and this tasting included a sublime example of the rarer cheese made with milk from the red cow.
We then had an antipasti plate of salamis and ham. On this plate we had my absolute favourite, Culatello which is not that easy to find in London. It is the most prestigious of the salumi from Italy and after maturing, its sweet musky flavour tastes a lot more complex than your average ham and makes the others seem so mundane. We also had some Parma ham and slivers of thin, melt in the mouth lardo of pure pig fat. Pig heaven! This was served with toasted bread and some pieces of Mostarda, candied mustard fruits, normally eating with boiled meat.
We then shared a plate of pasta with walnut pesto and a plate of polenta with ragu from their daily specials. The walnut pesto made with crushed walnuts, cream and parmesan was a total delight. Quite simple yet packed with flavour. I am not a big fan of polenta as it is usually a soggy and tasteless mess. The polenta here was nothing like that and served with a slow cooked rich meat ragu was the first polenta dish that I might order again.
For pudding, they make a wicked tiramisu and the not-to-be-missed chocolate salami. They also make a mean machiatto that only the Italian can.
In Parma is a little jewel of a restaurant. It’s really refreshing to find something like this in London. On the night we were there it was buzzing with a few cozy couples and a big office party. There was a nice buzz in the room, with terrific food, friendly service, all in all a fab local Italian.
You must go and feast on the Culatello, aged red cow Parmigiano and if they have it the walnut pesto pasta. One visit will not be enough.
In Parma By Food Roots
10 Charlotte Place London
London W1T 1SH
020 8127 4277
Eat Cook Explore was a guest at In Parma