Leggero: An Italian Gluten Free Shrine

Eating in a worry-free environment when gluten is your enemy mustn’t be under-rated. Even in London – the city of diversity when it comes to dietary preferences and requirements. From the moment I sat down and glanced at Leggero’s 100% gluten-free menu, I knew I was in wonderful hands. I arrived a whole 30 minutes ahead of my friends. “Don’t rush, I’m perfectly fine,” I messaged them. I had my gluten-free Peroni to occupy me (and had forgotten how good this beer was).

I proceeded to tuck into one of Leggero’s homemade hemp bread muffins, served warm with fresh salted butter. While steep at  £3 pounds a pop, I didn’t think twice about ordering a second – the texture and flavour were spot on, and not once did I feel like I was eating gluten-free bread.

Upon the arrival of my two non gluten-free friends, we decided to share two starters from Leggero’s small-plates list. We opted for the Polenta Gnocchi with porcini mushrooms, truffle oil, cheese, butter and sage and a portion of the “Gnudi” or ricotta and spinach balls dressed with fresh tomato sauce.

While the dishes really were on the small-side, we all felt fulfilled after sharing. The gnocchi was rich but light, and not by any means over-powered by the truffle oil which can often steal the limelight when added to pastas, rice dishes and the like. I can reveal that this was my favourite dish of the night, and given the chance I would have ordered one to two more portions. Gnocchi reminds me of being little and travelling with my family to Italy during the school holidays – I was reluctant to try many things but one day, at a family restaurant just outside Naples, my mom managed to get me to sample her gnocchi.  I proceeded to order gnocchi alla Sorrentina (its recipe I’ll share at a later date) in every restaurant we went to for the remaining 10 days of the trip. The Leggero Gnudi meanwhile were rich and flavourful, with the density of the ricotta balanced by a moreish tomato sauce.

Our mains came quickly (and why not, since fresh pasta takes a matter of minutes to cook), mine a serving of the handmade “Sorghum” large ravioli stuffed with prawns and asparagus and topped with saffron cream. My pasta was perfectly cooked, complete with a poppy seed garnish that gave the dish a fun texture I hadn’t experienced before. While I would have loved more of the prawn and asparagus filling, I reminded myself that the more full a homemade ravioli, the easier it can fall apart. My friends both enjoyed their “Sourgum Tagliatelle” which they ordered with two different sauces: lamb and asparagus and avocado, pecorino cheese and egg. Their portions were very generous and I would recommend them to those who perhaps opt for lighter starters. Both of my friends gushed over the pasta, and said they couldn’t believe it was gluten free! For those of you not wanting pasta for a main course, Leggero also offers such main dishes as fish and duck, served with adventurous vegetable sides.

Of course we ordered dessert and to avoid any food envy all very un-originally ordered the same thing, which was our waiter’s acclaimed favourite on the menu – the classic cheesecake. It was flavoured with white chocolate and topped with an option of chocolate or strawberry sauce. The cake was of the baked variety and not at all dense, unlike a lot of gluten-free cheesecakes I’ve both eaten in restaurants or made myself. I left not one crumb behind.

Leggero is a winner and somewhere I will return to for an easy and guaranteed delicious dinner. The mains aren’t what I would call cheap at £14- £18 but the quality comes through in the flavour and overall dining experience. I’ll review the new summer 2017 menu, which is launching soon. Watch this space glutinos!

Leggero (formerly La Polenteria)
64 Old Compton Street
London W1D 4UQ
Tel: 0207 434 3617
(Tables also bookable on bookatable and opentable)

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