It was date night and I was unbelievably excited to try out Popolo in Shoreditch. The reviews that I had read were pretty spectacular with some describing it as “one of the most brilliant Italian restaurants to open in London in ages”. Armed with expectations, I made my way after work to meet my husband. The restaurant is small so I would recommend booking. They have a lovely counter downstairs with more seating upstairs – when we arrived the place was pretty empty but it quickly filled up.
Ok, on to the good stuff – the food. We started with the crispy panko olives. These were served with labne, chickpeas and plenty of dukkah. There was a nice twist with the deep fried olives with a crunchy outer shell to reveal a juicy olive underneath. Next on the vegetarian hit list was the bruschetta (without the ‘nduja): a crunchy, thick slice of bread with some juicy tomatoes on top – you can never really go wrong with a bruschetta I suppose.
Since all the dishes are made to share, it was difficult to differentiate between starters and mains, so this is my interpretation of what counts as “mains”. From the vegetarian options, I ordered the grilled English asparagus followed by the nettle ravioli. The asparagus was well cooked but not terribly exciting. Having said that, I can’t really remember the last time I had a mind blowing asparagus based dish.. the nettle ravioli, however, was completely different. Rich, creamy and buttery little parcels of pasta joy – the ravioli packed a punch and I’d recommend a nice glass of dry wine to cut across some of the creaminess.
Popolo was small and a little cramped, but there was also a degree of cosiness that came with it. The staff were friendly although were a little hard to get hold off when we wanted to order dessert. Popolo’s food was good but I didn’t’ really fall in love with it. I do think it may be one of those places that our carnivorous friends would enjoy more than a vegetarian or vegan – but hey, it was still pretty decent and I would not object to going back.