Why would I trek out to Parsons Green for a neighbourhood restaurant you might be asking? Rigo would be the answer. Executive chef, Gonzalo Luzarraga who has worked with industry greats such as Alain Ducasse has brought his distinctive take on the Piedmontese cuisine to the lucky folks of West London.
The restaurant has been decked out in a sophisticated greyish blue hue however with odd bits of antique furniture dotted around. The focus here is of course on Gonzalo’s creations rather than the interior design. We opted for their tasting menu and right from the amuse bouche courses, you get a sense the chef is a genuine artist with the food scintillatingly well-plated. The crabmeat was served in a cocktail case on a bed of beans inside a giant crab shell. Then there were the mortadella ice cream cones as well as dehydrated tripe which resembled crisps and these were just the snacks before the actual tasting menu started.
One of his signature dishes is the sea urchin, which contains also Bagna Caòda, quail egg, and fermented milk. Bagna Caòda is a classic dish from Piedmonte containing garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter. The indescribable richness and intensity of the dish are what makes dining out a real joy. Diners happily pay a premium when dishes are as carefully constructed and well thought-out as this.
The dishes here are not just about exquisite presentation but are backed up with substance. A simple sounding Spaghettoni dei Fiori might not the most Instagram-friendly dish, but it packs a powerful umami punch with the use of Colatura di alici, which is a fish sauce made from anchovies and also uses natural yeast (anchovies are a big part of Piedmontese cuisine).
If there is any criticism to offer, this isn’t a restaurant for diners looking for subtle shades of taste: almost all the dishes are punchy and rich tasting. Personally, I adored the wild enoki with 48 months Parmigiano and black Alba Autumn truffle, but also understand these ingredients might not be to everyone’s tastes.
The main act was pluma of Cinta senese served with oyster, scallop coral, and pastinaca. From the very first mouthful, you can see why this wild breed of pig is so sought after: it has an extraordinary sweet taste along with a well-marbled distribution of meat and fat. The scallop roe sauce and oyster helped to accentuate the flavours of the pork although my guest found the presence of an oyster in his pork dish off-putting.
For those who enjoy inventive cuisine but in a more relaxed, congenial environment, Rigo will be right up your street.