Welcome to London.
Beyond the stereotypes of traditional British cuisine, Tucci discovered a vibrant culinary scene influenced by generations of Italian immigrants. With creamy burrata and fresh homemade pasta, some of these transplant dishes rival their Italian counterparts.
“It’s one of my favorite places in the world,” Tucci proudly proclaimed of his hometown.
THE CHEF WHO CATERED TUCCI’S WEDDING
“I was the one who introduced ‘nduja to London,” Mazzei said. “And now you find it almost everywhere, and now it’s a big part of your ingredient list.”
“This is delicious !” Tucci said, tasting the scallops. “There’s so much going on.”
Next, Tucci tried black cod with licorice, red onion jam, cavolo nero, olive oil mash and crispy potatoes. The dish is an ode to Mazzei’s humble roots in Calabria, where licorice and fish are abundant.
A CHURCH TRANSFORMED INTO A MARKET
Tucci picked up some tagliarini, long ribbon pasta, to cook later.
“It’s gorgeous. Look at the color of that,” Tucci said of the bright yellow.
He grabbed a kilo and went home to start cooking.
LEMON PASTA WITH LONDON ROCKET
To prepare the dish, the couple prepared chili peppers and garlic in olive oil. Then they added the cooked pasta to the pan, along with butter and lemon juice.
“Oh my god, look at that!” Contaldo said. “Sorry, I get excited every time I cook a bit of pasta.”
Finally, they topped it with London Rocket, a leafy green close cousin of arugula.
This dish may not be traditional, but it showcases the evolution of the London food scene.
“Wow. I love it with the rocket. It’s so good. I don’t even want to talk about … this or anything. I just want to eat it,” Tucci said.
FOLLOW THE BREADCRUMBS
She invited Tucci to her home in London’s East End to make anolini with her extended family.
Anolinis are stuffed with celery, carrots, garlic, breadcrumbs and cheese. Traditionally, breadcrumbs and Parmesan were used as a substitute for meat in the filling because they were more affordable.
The ravioli making process was extremely slow.
“Everyone wants quick recipes, but great recipes take time,” Hartnett said.
And just as she predicted, their hard work paid off.
“It’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” Tucci said.
In Chelsea, Tucci visited a one-of-a-kind restaurant that celebrates the art of home cooking.
“Ragù, lovingly simmered for six long hours, melts in your mouth,” Tucci said.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
The restaurant’s first owner, Peppino Leoni, was among the first to glamorize Italian cuisine.
The rich and creamy sauces show the French influence of the cuisine.
“France and Italy have always vied for supremacy,” Lee said.
THE CAPITAL OF MOZZARELLA
She discovered that the best cheese came from British cows.
“I love British milk,” said Di Vietri. “The flavor is slightly richer and the reason for that is the grass. The cows are more grazing.”
Mozzarella made from British cows is more yellow than the Italian version.
“It’s so comforting,” Tucci said, tasting the cheese. “The heat and everything about it. It feels so good.”
Today, more and more restaurants in London are embracing local cheeses.