Il Cudega, Hackney


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The new kid on east London’s gourmet block, Il Cudega opened its doors in September. Based on the typically Lombard concept of an ‘enogastronomia’, it combines deli, wine bar and restaurant. The founders Giovanni Brighi and Luca Gaggioli, and head chef Paolo Elesbani, were born and raised in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and their knowledge and passion for their native cuisine is as tangible as it is infectious.

Despite its location in hipster capital Hackney, there is no element of style over substance. Try traditional dishes such as risotto giallo saltato (saffron risotto fried into a thin layer) and farinata (unleavened chickpea flour baked in a stone oven), or pull up a chair at the Focaccia Bar and try flatbread Genovese-style, topped with creamy cheese and sausage. The deli section is a treasure trove of authentic Lombard flavours from small-label producers, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in the UK. Look out for salamino carbonella (young salami smoked over juniper wood), raspadura cheese and Il Cudega’s branded wines, including Rossi di San Colombano and Verdea, a sparkling white ideal for entertaining. ‘Ready meals’ are a strong suit. They’re cooked in-house and jam-packed with flavour.

The deli is part of Fount London, a micro-development in the railway arches just off Westgate Street. Familyfriendly with its own playground, it also features fashion pop-ups, so it won’t just be the latest gastronomic arrivals you’ll be browsing.IL.

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