Fridays were the days for fish and fresh pasta. Mothers, aka chief family managers, were used to plan ahead for the meals of the following days. Gnocchi for Friday, noodles for Saturday and quadrucci for the light supper on Monday. Light supper, as diets always start on Mondays.
Those are the days when hours were long and stretched, when school holidays set the calendar and a pastificio was a little shop. The pasta machines were visible, just in the background, managed by two generations of the same family. They were running together the front and the back of the shop. Few products on sale, fewer were added along the line in the last few years.
Press the forward button and we are in 2013. East London. Burro e Salvia is the 2.0 version of the traditional Italian pastificio (literally the place where they make pasta), cleverly positioned in the hippest corner of Shoreditch. The design is minimal and sophisticated. Everything you see is carefully chosen: the coffee cup, the label, the aprons, Aesop hand soap in the loo.
Pasta, ravioli, gnocchi are prepared daily in front of the customers, behind a beautiful Corian working top, ready to be taken home and cooked to perfection, following the instructions that Gaia Enria, the owner, will put in your shopping bag. Or, even better, served in the dining area of the pastificio.
The menu of Burro e Salvia offers a good seasonal selection of traditional Italian pastas. Sometimes with a surprising twist. I had some lovely ricotta and spinach gnocchi, a perfect meal for a not so hot British summer day. Prepared following the traditional recipe, the twist is delivered by a tip of mint. Perfect to enjoy in the bright dining area or al banco, sitting on a stall, looking at never boring world that strolls outside. It is Shoreditch, so people watching cannot be boring.
Burro e Salvia is a place where I want to take some Italian friends, in London forever or here just for few days, so I can show them how some Italian traditional pillars can be exported, revitalised and rejuvenated. How? Adding attention to details, to the customer experience and a splash of good design. And remember that something as simple as pasta can be divine. All it needs is attention, care, and a good setting.
BTW pasta doesn’t make you fat and it boosts the production of serotonin. So drop the Xanax and have a bowl of tagliatelle.