Stanley Tucci picks his favourite London restaurants

by 24britishtvOct. 7, 2021, 9:40 a.m. 18
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Though, given Tucci’s Italian lineage, it is Italian fare that dominates both his writing and our conversation. He is currently filming more of his CNN series, Searching For Italy, which is proving highly popular, though he is now doing an episode here in the UK. “We couldn’t go to Italy [due to Covid restrictions] so we decided to do one here, because there are about 400,000 Italians in the UK now. If you go to an Italian restaurant here, it’ll be full of Italians. Actual Italians. So we’re going to look at what they’re doing here, the great delicatessens and why young Italians are coming here. I found an amazing woman who is making mozzarella here using British produce. CNN approached me and one of the ideas I gave them was about breaking down Italian food region by region and exploring the reason why each region has the food it does, looking at topography, history, socioeconomics; all of that was really interesting to me. I’m going to cook with Gennaro [Contaldo] for an episode. He is the loveliest man ever.”

Unsurprisingly, he has a deep love for the country, but is hard pushed to pick a top spot. “I really love the north. I love the climate. Emilia-Romagna, let’s face it, is pretty incredible when it comes to cuisine – the tortellini and the prosciutto, the lasagna Bolognese, it’s hard to beat. And the Amalfi coast, Umbria, Sardinia, and Rome… it’s impossible to choose a favourite place.”

But being based in London he isn’t stuck for places to source good Italian food, he tells me. Valentina in Sheen is “great. Sheen is cool. I Camisa in Soho and Lina are excellent. Eataly opened in Liverpool Street – I haven’t been yet but it was started in Milan and it’s heaven. If heaven were an Italian eatery it would be Eataly. And it’s huge. You can’t fathom how much they stock and the little restaurants and bars peppered inside. It’s staggering and there is nothing you can’t get there that is Italian.” If forced to choose a last meal, he admits it “might be lasagna Bolognese. In Emilia-Romagna I think I ate it every day.”

And only ever one more cocktail? “A martini. I can just about have them now if I make them properly because my throat was so messed up from the [cancer] treatment – I don’t have all my saliva and it is incredibly sensitive, let’s put it that way – so if you have something sparkling, it still makes me sick because it’s like little needles stabbing me. And that’s just sparkling water, not even Champagne, so something super harsh has to be watered down. But a martini is good because you have to dilute it and, when made properly, it’s fine.”

So what tips does Mr Tucci have for us with regards to his favourite cocktail, the martini? “I recently went to The Connaught and we shot some stuff for Tanqueray, which was really fun and the bartender there, Augustino [Perrone] was a lovely, funny guy and he taught me a couple of really great things. I stir my martinis, as does he, but he taught me to hold the spoon and place it behind the ice so you get a silent stir. It’s beautiful and mixes it perfectly. They make their own vermouth by combining three different types – they are all white, but they are different and that matters because there isn’t one flavour profile. It hits different notes with a perfect balance. Having clear ice is also key. You have to freeze it slowly so it doesn’t become cloudy. It’s much cleaner.”

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (Fig Tree, £20) is out now.

Stanley Tucci on his love for food and Italian heritage

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