Last Updated on May 23, 2022
Fresh pasta in Canary Wharf at Emilia’s
The team behind the popular Emilia’s Crafted Pasta restaurants in St Katherine’s Dock and Aldgate have recently opened a welcome third branch in Docklands. Emilia’s goal is to offer diners the ultimate in Italian comfort food – pasta made fresh on-site every morning and each shape matched with the perfect sauce.
Emilia’s is located in Canary Wharf’s latest residential neighbourhood – Wood Wharf – just a few minutes’ walk from the back entrance to the Jubilee line tube station. The venue is divided into bar and restaurant areas with an intriguing games section in between featuring indoor table bocce. This looks a bit like a cross between bar billiards and boules and could be a lot of fun if you visit with a group of competitive friends. The airy restaurant was filled with natural light when we arrived early evening.
We began our evening with typically Italian cocktails. My friend tried a Hugo for the first, which was all the rage when I visited Florence last year. She found the aromatic mix of prosecco and elderflower spritz with mint dangerously drinkable.
I stuck to my trusty old favourite – the Aperol Spritz – and I’m pleased to report it was a very good example.
Cocktails downed, we moved on to the wine list. We chose a Sicilian white – Il Meridione Grillo – which proved to be a light, easy-drinking wine.
We shared two starters including the sourdough bruschetta with heritage tomatoes, garlic and freshly chopped basil. Bruschetta can be a bit of a dangerous choice in the UK as I have too often been faced with woolly, tasteless tomatoes, but this was definitely not the case here. Emilia’s version was deliciously garlicky, with a variety of tomatoes that were filled with flavour, and vitally, ripe, sinking into the oily sourdough.
Our other choice was the bresaola – finely sliced cured beef which comes with a choice of toasted sourdough or rocket and parmesan salad. We chose to have it with the salad rather than bread.
The meat was fresh and tender and very thinly sliced. It was a strongly flavoured lemony salad, however, which rather drowned out the meat.
Our helpful waiter provided us with our own bottles of good organic extra virgin olive oil and a rich and gooey balsamic glaze so we could happily dress our starters as we pleased.
The main event at Emilia’s is, of course, the pasta menu. I had the pappardelle with four-hour bechamel bolognese. According to the menu their ragu recipe hails from Imola to the west of Bologna. Good depth of meaty flavour was almost livery (in a good way). Served with wide ribbons of good fresh pasta this was a very tasty ragu.
Both of our pasta dishes came positively covered in curls of delicious Parmigiano Reggiano DOP.
My friend ordered the ravioli with grass-fed lamb, parsley and parmesan in a light butter and sage sauce. The ravioli was packed with a dense properly meaty filling. Combined with copious parmesan, however, the dish was a bit too salty and needed a bit more buttery sauce to give it extra juiciness. It was also extremely filling so we’d recommend a light non-carby starter if you don’t have an enormous appetite.
Remarkably, we still had room for pudding. Emilia’s signature dessert is their homemade amaretto tiramisu with crushed amaretti and cantuccini biscuits scattered on top. This sparked a discussion about spying on our parents’ 1970s dinner parties, which would often culminate in lit amaretti wrappers floating flaming to the ceiling. It was a different take on tiramisu, the coffee-soaked sponge and mascarpone are there but there’s the addition of a thick layer of biscuits to dig through to reach the tiramisu below. Too much crunch, not enough goo declared my friend.
I had the homemade vanilla pannacotta with fresh strawberries. This was very good. The strawberries had been properly steeped to bring out their juices. The pannacotta was creamy rather than dense and wobbly resulting in an Italian variant on strawberries and cream. I would definitely order this dessert again.
The menu promises that an Aperitivo Hour with stuzzichini (bar snacks) is coming soon to Emilia’s. I can imagine this being a big draw in the summer once the waterside alfresco tables are open.
Emilia’s is recommended for pasta lovers in search of good, fresh, natural ingredients plus lovely cocktails in a relaxed setting.
12 George Street,
Wood Wharf, London