In Italy (and in Italian families worldwide) culture and cuisine are intrinsically connected. Food means family. It’s cooked with passion and shared with family and friends. Watching someone enjoy the food you made is one the greatest feelings in the world for an Italian. The whole experience is warm, fulfilling and loving.
I find it rare to replicate this experience when dining out for Italian food. But at Portobello Garden Caffe I feel all the warmth of my Italian grandmother shoving her homemade meatballs on my plate as a young girl.
It’s obvious the place takes pride in its cuisine and heritage – the best quality cured meats, cheeses and breads are displayed on a long work station where you can look on while your food is being prepared. The process seems effortless yet artful. A flick of the wrist, a handful of arugula and a generous drizzle of imported olive oil.
What you’re presented with are dishes that are fresh, authentic and delicious (and affordable). Bruschetta, burrata, bufala mozzarella, pork jowl, saltimbocca, ricotta salata, prosciutto. Once in a while you’ll find the owner’s grandchildren there, helping prepare the ingredients while the owner makes fresh ricotta. Heaven.
I can’t remember who told me or how I found this place, but I’m so grateful I did. It’s definitely one of the best kept secrets for Italian food in London – hidden at the back of an arcade. And yes, it’s on Portabello Road which most of us try to avoid simply for the tourists alone. But get there. NOW. Before the tourists catch on. Trust me on this.