Review: Pulia London
| 8th May 2015
By Tom Gatehouse
Thanks England, thanks a bunch. Tempting us with normal summer skies, the smiling sun and a hint of genuine warmth before savagely blowing it all into oblivion. And raining on us.
Lucky then for the visitors and residents around London’s Borough Market, with new deli restaurant Pulia injecting distilled Italian charm into the currently dreary cobbled streets.
Arriving for the first time on English shores earlier this year, all clean whites and olive branches, this 30-seater concept is the first outpost to appear outside of Italy, with Milan, Venice, Torino and Florence all very much acquainted with the stunning, traditional food and wine – all exclusively from the Puglia region, the ‘high heel’ on the boot of Italy – on offer.
Pulia’s pride and adherence of their roots is remarkable. They’ve managed to hire Apulian staff throughout, giving their new London audience the best guides to their dining experience; Apulian crafted tables, chairs, art work, and lighting are all eagerly pointed out; with the food taken straight from a traditional family lunch in a renovated trullo house in southern Italy.
The deli counter in the middle of the whiter than white dining area bristles with focaccia, pizza rustica, crocche di patate, different types of parmigiana, burrata and mozzarella cheeses, ham and salumi, all flanking an exquisite salad station.
Not content with providing some of the best quality Italian food in the area, Pulia couples as an artisanal marketplace, with dried pastas, organic olive oils, Apulian wines, specialist coffees, cured meats and herbs just some of the products to fawn over and decide to take home. Bags, books, biscuits – you name it!
My companion and I were really spoilt for choice. It was one of those times where only a bit of everything would suffice. This led us to ham and cheese-filled focaccias (£6.60), a beef and mozzarella pizza rustica slice (£4.50), a packed charcuterie board (£17.50), a pair of crocche (£2.40 each) – one mint and the other with scamorza – and a large Italian salad (£9) with all the trimmings from the all-smiles waitress.
It was when the manager brought us two large glasses of their Lauto (a Primitivo at £9.75) that I really felt like I was on holiday. The bright, airy interior, littered with vases, statuettes, and the little details such as olive branches encased in the glass topped tables will be such a big hit for those after a little escape.
A veritable daydream of the summery continent, complete but for an outside area. When asked on this point, the waiter promptly showed me the prepared back exit. This, and an extended licence to accommodate dinner, are well on the way.
Pulia’s tagline reads ‘Qualita e Semplicita’, and our meal was just the perfect translation. This is clean, fresh food of the highest quality. Ideal for hand picking over a working lunch, or settling in with the family for an invigorating weekend brunch. The braided mozzarella and pork neck from the board were the stand out moments in our picnic-style meal, with the salad a real credit to the waitress’ understanding of balance and flavour. I felt educated as well as satisfied, with the Apulian diet immediately becoming something of real envy to me.
A dessert of traditional pasticciotto custard (£3.90), a staple of Salento in southern Puglia, rounded us off so well. By this point, I was already thinking of a day in the next week where I could return for another naughty lunch.
This might not be the only cafe of its kind in London, with the likes of Valentina Fine Foods up and running for example, but this must surely be the one closest to the root. Simple food, a genuine pride in its provenance, and just outstanding flavours across a range of tempting Apulian classics.
Address: 36 Stoney Street, London SE1 9LB
Phone: 020 7407 8766
READ OUR NEW EDITION OF THE MAGAZINE: