Gluten free Italian at Leggero, Soho
Gluten free Italian.... surely that's a bit of a contradiction, right? Plates full of pasta, soft squishy dough pizzas, freshly baked carbey focaccia... surely gluten is basically an Italian speciality?! You'd be forgiven for thinking so - I did too - until I discovered that not only did gluten free Italian exist.... it also tastes pretty damn good!! Introduce, Leggero....
|Leggero, nestled in the heart of Soho|
Whilst ravioli, tagliatelle and gnocchi lie at the heart of their menu, Leggero is the only entire Italian Gluten-Free restaurant in the UK. A little crazy when you consider there's an estimated 8.5 MILLION people across the country who live gluten-free (BBC 2016).
Now, anyone who knows me will know I never advocate cutting out a food type - whether it be gluten, wheat, dairy etc - unless you actually have a specific allergy. Just because that double chocolate chip brownie is it's dairy/gluten free, does NOT mean it's healthy - FYI! However, whether you are gluten free or not, the food at Leggero most definitely doesn't compromise on taste or texture - I wouldn't have even been able to tell it didn't contain gluten!
|100% gluten free menu|
Visiting with the lovely Sana one Saturday afternoon, we secured our seats right in the window spot and began to read over the varied menu....
|Baby Octopus with Mashed Potatoes|
With starters options including meat, fish and vegetarian, it was the two seafood dishes that caught the attention of Sana and I. Whilst Sana decided on the baby octopus with mashed potatoes, I went for the calamari stuffed with fish and vegetables....
|Calamari stuffed with Fish and Vegetables|
Fresh and flavourful, filled with a creamy sauce, tender salmon and chunky crab meat, the calamari was probably one of the best I've ever tasted (and I choose calamari a LOT!). Therefore I know it's a difficult fish to get right, as even the smallest amount of over-cooking can too easily result in a rubbery and chewy texture. Not this, however - Leggero got it spot on.
|Starters on point!|
Going onto the mains, there were a number of different options that caught our eye. With the 'Leggier' (translated means 'lighter') sharing plates giving a hint of what the full menu offers, we were tempted to go for a few different small dishes, however as our eyes moved down to the pasta and ravioli based main courses, that intention slowly withered. Even more so when we both spotted the Handmade Black Ink 'Sorghum Large Ravioli' stuffed with salmon. The decision was made - on both accounts!
|Handmade Black Ink Sorghum Raviloi|
As I wasn't too sure on the sound of the courgette cream sauce, I asked if I could have mine with a more tomato based sauce instead, which the waitress kindly said wouldn't be a problem. I always really appreciate it when restaurants are happy about making slight alterations to the menu - not only does it mean you get a dish you're more likely to enjoy, but it also confirms it really is being made fresh.... and hasn't been sitting pre-prepared in a tupperware box all day!
|Fresh, flavourful, with just the right amount of al-dente bite|
Whilst I didn't think much could top my calamari starter, the squid ink ravioli most definitely came into the same league! The pasta had the perfect amount of bite to it (soggy/overcooked pasta is something I can't stand!) and, whilst I thought my creamy tomato sauce was the perfect compliment to the dish, Sana argued the courgette cream was one of the best sauces she'd ever tasted.
|But seemingly the courgette cream was pretty good also!|
As the friendly waitress cleared our plates and offered us a look at the desert menu, featuring Italian specialities such as freshly made tiramisu and a mango and raspberry cheesecake, whilst they sounded amazing, we were pleasantly full from the previous two courses.... so decided it would be a good excuse to return for another day!
|Girls + Carbs = SMILES ALL ROUND!|
All in all, I can't recommend Leggero highly enough. Whether gluten free or not, if you enjoy good quality, fresh food, an innovative menu, fantastic service and authentic surroundings, all for extremely reasonable prices (a two course meal would be approx £20-£25 per person excluding drinks), then Leggero is the place for you!
|Thanks Leggero, I will be back!|