Test Driving Palatino - a modern Roman canteen in Clerkenwell

sageFried sage with honey vinegar

So what do we need to know about Palatino?

This new restaurant from Stevie Parle sees the chef (Dock Kitchen, Craft and Rotorino) use the culinary melting point that is Roman food for inspiration.

Where is it?

On Central Street, off City Road. The nearest tube station is Old Street. It's actually part of a flexible working space so it'll eventually be open all day from breakfast through to dinner. Right now it's doing lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday. Breakfasts and Sunday lunch will follow later.

roomThe dining room

Where should we meet for drinks first?

Well there's a lovely looking bar here, with plenty of seats - but if you'd rather meet elsewhere, you could grab a glass of wine at nearby Look mum no hands!

Where should we sit?

This is a beautifully-designed dining room. At lunchtime, it's light and airy and we're told there's a great atmosphere in the evening too. Larger groups will want to nab one of the bigger banquettes, while there's a long communal table down the middle of the room for anyone who prefers more casual dining.

And the food?

ravioliRavioli with spinach and squash

What a menu! Split into all the classic Italian categories, we were hard-pressed to whittle it down to our final choice. From what we had - if it's still on the menu when you go - we'd pick out the following as top recommendations:

  • Fried sage leaves with honey vinegar (£3)
  • Suppli - fried rice balls (think smaller than arancini but with cheese in the middle). The ones we had were filled with wild mushrooms and marscarpone (£3)
  • Ravioli with spinach and squash (£8 for a starter size portion) and right up there with the best fresh pasta we've had in London recently
  • Chicken and pistachio meatballs with polenta (£12.50) - central heating via the medium of food

For dessert we thought the chocolate, pistachio and honeycomb looked great, but might actually kill us after all we'd eaten. So we shared a wonderfully light almond, lemon and ricotta cake, served up with forced rhubarb (£6) which allowed us walk out, unaided.

meatballsChicken and pistachio meatballs with polenta


The exclusively Italian wine list features everything available as a 125ml glass, carafe or bottle. Price-wise you can roam from £4 for a glass of Sicilian Cataratto to £50 for a glass of 1996 Sassicaia. There's also a really interesting cocktail list. The house spritz, made with pine needle and sour cherry, would please any Negroni fans and we might have to go back for something that sounds like it featured in a Latin textbook - Honeyed Wine, made with Trebbiano, honey and spices.

Overall thoughts?

We're seriously tempted to rent out some desk space in this building, just to have access to this as the best kind of works canteen. On second thoughts, the amount we'd end up spending here would put a serious dent in our finances. The addition of a daily series of pizzas soon will make Parle's new Italian place even more tempting. Try your hardest to get a table, we hear they're already booked out for the first two weeks.

Hot Dinners were invited to Palatino. Prices correct at time of publication. Find out more about Palatino