It’s said that Stevie Parle – London’s darling of a restaurateur – got the idea for Palatino on a trip to Rome organised by Rose Grey and Ruthie Rogers, his then-bosses at The River Café. Auspicious beginnings, indeed. And you can see the influence of both. Not least in the fact that Palatino serves Roman cuisine. But also in the simple, direct way of cooking, and the laudable use of delicious olive oil. The 2016 Cappezana olive oil used in the salt cod crudo immediately comes to mind.
The menu at Palatino comes out swinging with some serious Roman classics. The cacio e pepe – a deceptively simple dish of parmesan and black pepper brought together in a silky emulsion by the pasta’s cooking water – is velvety smooth, with just the right amount of al dente, peppery bite. The saltimbocca’s another win, the veal tender and mouthwatering with the salty, earthy hit of prosciutto and sage. While the gnocchi in the cotorni (side dishes) menu is sure to please, with its perfectly crispy exteriors yielding to a pillowy soft, slightly chewy interior, redolent with parmesan and garlic.
In keeping with true cucina Romana style, there are offal dishes, like the creamy rigatoni and veal pajata (the intestines of a calf only fed on its mother’s milk), and plenty of fantastically bitter notes in the menu; the Campari ice cream is a delicious way to round off the meal and cleanse the palate.
There may be no Italian chatter from other tables per se and the restaurant itself may not have the rustic charm of a trattoria – instead being a quasi-industrial chic space kitted out in shades of warm grey and buttercup yellow, with more than a few cages in view – Palatino nevertheless offers your tastebuds a tantalising trip to Rome.