Eschew the usual chains in favourite of this fusion food restaurant that packs a punch
Words Hannah Hopkins
Size isn’t everything and the proof is Popolo, a teeny tiny restaurant in Shoreditch that lacks square footage but packs a serious punch with its food.
Set on Rivington Street with a pared-back frontage – it’s easy to miss, but if you’re tipped off by those with a finger on the foodie pulse, you’ll be treated to delectable plates with in-the-know diners.
An obscure fusion of Italian-Middle Eastern-Mexican fare, it’s the brainchild of Jonathan Lawson, who after five years of working with Theo Randall has branched out with his own place and the results are moreish to the extreme.
Lawson has spent months sourcing the perfect meats, fish, cheese, vegetables and herbs to create dishes including Grouse Cappelletti – delicate pasta parcels filled with Scottish grouse and served with porcini butter; Capesante – diver-caught scallops with Umbrian lentils, saltwort and capers; Tangia of steamed lamb shoulder, preserved lemon, saffron and wild fennel; and Pulpo – octopus with paprika and green laver seaweed.
We kick things off with a couple of glasses of bubbles as we tuck into a range of sharing plates. Padron peppers, panzanella, hake romana with aioli & lemon, pasta parcels filled with veal shoulder, parmesan & porcini butter and pappardelle hare ragu are delivered to the table as and when they’re ready and immediately wolfed down.
We also order the signature fusion dish: fried olives with labne and morita chilli oil – a mix of Umbrian, Middle-Eastern and Mexican food. Unpretentious and hearty, it perfectly reflects the ethos of this little gem of a restaurant. So next time you head to Shoreditch eschew the usual chains in favour of Popolo and much like The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin, you’ll be trying to go back weekly if you can.
26 Rivington St, London EC2A 3DU