Rigo’ in Parsons Green is London’s most exciting modern Italian restaurant
Food can be really exciting. And the excitement transcends the edges of the plate. A restaurant’s design, the front of house approach and – more importantly – the chef’s vision are all factors that, combined, heighten or lessen the entire experience. What makes things even more exciting is discovering a place better than those on everyone’s lips.
Rigo’ is one of London’s best-kept secrets. Its chef, Gonzalo Luzarraga, conceives eclectic menus and owns all the technical skills – and understanding of ingredients and flavours – necessary to pull them off. This little restaurant does probably the most impressive modern Italian cooking London has to offer.
Luzarraga has a complex background; born in Chile and brought up in Piedmont, he honed his cuisine mixing the influences of his Basque father, Ligurian grandfather and Piedmontese mother. This blend of cultures – and the three years at Alain Ducasse’s celebrated Le Louis XV in Monaco – are immediately reflected in the snacks from the tasting menu: snails, pigeon macaroons and tripe. We have them with a glass of delightful Philipponnat Royale Réserve Non Dosé.
The chef’s flair erupts with a Sea Urchin, served with bagna càuda (a traditional Piedmontese hot dish made with extra-virgin olive oil, butter and anchovies for dipping purposes), quail egg and fermented milk. While it might seem daring from the sound of it, it’s actually very well balanced and – more importantly – exquisite. It’s followed by a safer dish, Wild Enoki, which is a (non)risotto made with mushroom instead of rice – and covered with Alba black truffle.
The two centrepieces of this meal are the most remarkable and best executed. Once an accomplished chef told me that if he doesn’t get to interact with the food a restaurant experience gets boring; the Bone Marrow with Oscietra caviar, porcini and bonito dashi gives the diner that pleasure as it encourages you to try and combine the three elements. Right after, Spaghettoni dei Fiori brings back to the table a simple yet striking Italian touch. The pasta is mixed with colatura di alici and yeast from Camden Town Brewery. It’s the fresh yeast twist that makes this course special, probably inspired by a similar dish from cutting-edge chef Riccardo Camanini.
We are told the dessert – Porcini Brûlés – is the result of a bet between Luzarraga and a Piedmontese chef of global fame. The renowned cook claimed Luzarraga wouldn’t be able to devise a pudding based on mushrooms – and so he did, winning the bet.
Walking past the front window of Rigo’ no one would expect the wonders that are served inside, and that’s part of the charm of this Parsons Green restaurant. By comparison, it’s the Italian version of a less hipster Clove Club. Whoever loves Italian food and a cutting-edge approach will be very glad to sit at one of these tables or at the counter where the chef will serve and explain the dishes directly to you.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Rigo’, 277 New King’s Rd Fulham, London SW6 4RD, call 020 7751 3293 or visit their website here.