Lucie Loves... Food // Where to find gluten free Italian food in London
La Polenteria is the first Italian restaurant in London which is 100% gluten free. I stumbled across the restaurant during a ‘restaurant googling session’ and was surprised that I hadn’t already heard of them since their ethos was completely in line with mine: healthy is delicious. It is clear from the website that La Polenteria is passionate about creating healthy, gluten free dishes whilst remaining completely authentic to its Italian roots.
I immediately contacted them to make a reservation. The restaurant is based in the heart of Soho on Old Compton Street; it is a small venue and has a very laid back atmosphere. During my visit I noticed at least 2 people had come to the restaurant to dine alone, which I think tells you a lot about the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the venue. When I arrived I was greeted and seated by a friendly waiter, who later explained the menu to me.
Displaying all the allergens next to the dishes, the staff want to make sure every customer feels free and comfortable to make the best choice. The menu also offers vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes (if only I had known about it during my vegan Lent!) and is heavily based on polenta – a popular dish from North Italy. Polenta is corn flour cooked in hot water and mixed with various flavours to create different dishes.
Having already looked at the menu before I came I was torn between two dishes. Luckily my friend had a similar dilemma and we were able to share. We opted for the parmigiana to start, followed by Polenta gnocchi with truffle cheese, butter and sage and beef ravioli with balsamic reduction, pinenuts and raisins.
The gnocchi was the shining star - in fact it was one of the nicest meals I’ve had while living in London. The flavour combinations could have been quite heavy and sickly, but instead they were subtle yet defined. You could taste each ingredient and flavour.
I was a little worried that the portion sizes were a tad small for my liking, but after eating I can confirm they were just right, any larger and you might have been overwhelmed by the flavours. The ravioli was also delicious, with tender pieces of beef wrapped in home-made pasta. For dessert we shared a cheesecake - I’m not sure where this fits in with healthy eating(?!) but it was delicious! A close second to the cheesecakes on brick lane - in my eyes you can’t beat a polish cheesecake.
The restaurant’s passion and commitment for the gluten-free diet goes beyond feeding diners. They are sponsoring the Coeliac UK association (which they are accredited by) at the 2016 Virgin London Marathon and also held an event on the 9th of May to raise awareness about the gluten-free diet and coeliac disease. Awareness and consideration is at the heart of what they do, and in this way La Polenteria is more than just a restaurant.
All in all, we had a fantastic visit. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere was welcoming and most importantly the food was really something special. There is a lot more on the menu that I want to try and I’ve been informed that they are going to offer even more dishes on the Spring Menu starting from next week - so I’ll definitely be back!
Visit lapolenteria.co.uk for more details and to make a booking.
Words & photos by Karis