Lombardy meets London Fields in the first of a series of supperclubs, at the latest and loveliest venture to make its home on Westgate Street.
Co-owners Giovanni Brighi and Luca Gaggioli are childhood friends – both from the Lombardy region, both with accents that make listing cured meats sound like reciting poetry. Brighi’s been a Hackney resident for the last 20 years. Gaggioli, on the other hand, has been lured over more recently by the sorrowful lack of the eno-gastronomia phenomenon – a very Italian beast of equal parts deli, café and wine bar – on London’s dining scene: something that together, with Il Cudega, they hope to fix.
Visitors to Il Cudega in its daytime shape can choose between coffees, chinotti and wines, between full-blown, sprawling lunches eaten in or parcels of Lombardian antipasti and dishes to take away.
Guests at Il Cudega evenings, on the other hand, are presented with sweeping, four-course dinners, with matched wines and a central theme. At the Introduction to Lombardy night Brighi and Gaggioli are welcoming guests at the door with an aperitivo of Bonarda mossa Calatroni – dark red, lightly fizzy, and from the Oltrepò Pavese area.
That kicks off a menu of Lombardian specialities – covering coppa ubriaca, doused in a vat of Bonarda wine for a month, heaped shavings of Raspadura Lodigiana cheese, homemade buckwheat pizzoccheri and wild duck served on lentil stew.
The evening wraps up with a Giamaica caffe espresso. One so plain but rich that it makes you fear and long to see what they can do with a hot chocolate. Or the zabaione del ciclista on their brunch menu, for that matter. Luckily there’s a whole winter ahead to find out…
Upcoming Il Cudega supperclubs are a Lago di Garda-inspired night on 18th and 19th November. For bookings and more information, call 0207 2416599. Il Cudega is open Monday to Friday, from 8.30am – 6pm, Saturday to Sunday, from 9am to 6pm, and for a series of supperclubs throughout the year. Il Cudega, 358, Westgate Street, London, E8 3RL. Website.