Rotorino, Dalston

It’s been a while since I’ve been invited to review a restaurant but I was one of the lucky chosen few of the Love Popups London community that was invited along to Italian restaurant Rotorino in Dalston to experience one of their monthly regional dinners. On the last Tuesday of each month the chef at Rotorino throws out the regular menu and instead creates a whole new set menu based around a particular region of Italy. For January Lombardy was the chosen location, situated in Northwest Italy and landlocked with no coastline dishes generally encompass rice, maize, meats & cheeses.

*Disclaimer: Our meal at Rotorino was free in exchange for blogging about my experience. The below opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

For just £28 per person you get a selection of starters to share, a pasta dish per person, one main dish each and a selection of desserts to finish which if you ask me is an absolutely great deal. It also helps people like me who suffer from decision anxiety and constant food envy because it limits the number of choices you have to make.

For the starter I was torn between the bresoala, air-dried salt beef which is reminiscent of prosciutto ham, and the bruschetta but with this special menu I was able to try both and neither disappointed. The meat melted in your mouth and wasn’t overly salty despite being cured in such while the thick toasted sourdough was topped with taleggio cheese and fresh diced tomatoes – an unusual combination for bruschetta but one that worked well.

The two other starters were alborelle, small fish that reminded me of whitebait, which were perfectly adequate just not to my personal taste and mondeghilli – veal, beef and parmesan meatballs. I’ve only had veal once before and I absolutely hated it so I was ready to dislike these but actually they weren’t half bad. Succulent and juicy the flavour of the parmesan really shone through.

For the pasta course we had a choice between meat tortellini or a pumpkin ravioli – I opted for the latter and boy it did not disappoint. The freshly made pasta arrived drowning in butter, was soft to the bite and melted in your mouth. It was reminiscent of the best pasta I’d ever eaten at X and my only wish was that there was a LOT more of it but we still had another two courses to come.

The rest of the group went for the traditional osso bucco & saffron risotto, a deboned veal shank with a meaty risotto, the dish looked hearty and filling whereas I ventured into the unknown a little with the luccio in salsa – only really knowing at luccio was a type of fish. Turns out luccio is a species of pike which made for a large meaty fillet of white fish served to me atop a bed of creamy polenta and vegetables. Some fish can be quite bland but this was flavourful and light. I don’t think I’d ever had polenta before this meal and I honestly thought it tasted like super creamy mashed potatoes so that was a definite win. This course was also easily the biggest of the four and I wasn’t able to finish it all – after all you’ve got to save some room for dessert right?

Finally we ended with a sharing platter of dessert dishes. Sadly despite having a sweet tooth this was the most disappointing course for myself with everything tasting quite bland and unimaginative. There was toasted panettone which seemed to me a bit too much like a toasted teacake. Torrone, an Italian version of nougat. Sbrisolona, a crunchy biscuity tart which would have been quite delicious with a cup of tea but not as the ending to a delicious meal and some thin crackers with provolone cheese and candied fruits.

All of that for just £28 per person seems like a bargain now doesn’t it? They also have a set menu on week nights offering 2 courses for £15 or 3 for £19 which seems excellent value for money and I definitely want to return to the restaurant to try a full size portion of one of their delicious pasta dishes!

Thanks to Jo of Love PopUps London for setting this review up.

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