Reaching Gotto Trattoria does feel like a pilgrimage unless you are a resident of Hackney. It is situated at Here East, which is going to be the new digital quarter for East London and the former site of the London Olympics media centre. It is about 10 minutes from Hackney Wick or a pleasant but longer stroll though the Olympic park from Stratford station. Whilst the journey to the restaurant does require effort, the beautifully rustic and tempting Italian menu does make the endeavour worth while.
Both the head chef and general manager there are from Puglia. It is an area known as the breadbasket of Italy because it produces over 80% of Europe’s pasta, much of Italy’s fish and even more wine than the whole of Germany.
Matching the healthy with the sinful, I tried the turbot carpaccio along with the pork and smoked pancetta bombette. Both were stunning in their own different ways. Turbot isn’t often served raw, but here it still taste relatively fatter when compared to oily fish like salmon and tuna. Bombette is a very traditional, typical street food from Puglia. Yes smoked pancetta wrapped around pork and served cacio cheese sauce isn’t going to impress your family doctor, but it the kind of delectable sinful joy that you deserve once in a while. Ordering their homemade vermouth is a must at Gotto Trattoria, especially when their light, citrusy version helps to cut through the fat from the bombette dish.
They don’t have a lengthy pasta menu but the options are well-chosen and constantly changing. I tried an orecchiette with beef braciole and cacio ricotta, which is once again another speciality from the Puglia region. The pasta is shaped like a small ear and is perfect for scoping up the sauces and flavours from any dish and is actually quite surprising that we don’t see more of this versatile pasta on London menus. The braciole was rich and velvety and was sensational when combined with cacio ricotta.
The meal was finished off with an elegant and light vanilla pannacotta with fresh wild berries. It had the right formula of not being too soft or firm and had just the right amount of sweetness and a gentle hint of vanilla. Like all the previous dishes, it might appear simple in construction but the execution was spot-on.
Whilst it isn’t exactly Puglia, their terrace area is calm and peaceful overlooking the canal with a constant stream of cyclist passing by over the weekends. It might not be easy to find your way to Gotto Trattoria, but they offer some of the best Italian food you will find in London.