Since last visiting Old Street’s Passo for brunch, they’ve gone and got themselves a brand spanking new head chef. Joe Howley, formerly of Salt Yard, is now at the helm and whilst the menu remains inspired by Italian ingredients, he promises to bring a “more refined approach to traditional, southern European cooking.”
Designed by the same team behind Luca in Farringdon and Soho Farmhouse, the Passo space is still a real beauty. Elegant earthy tones, large, oval-shaped oak tables and a large open kitchen firmly make this one of London’s prettiest restaurants.
However, Passo has more than meets the eye, with a delicious sharing menu split into pasta, pizza, fish and meat dishes.
Fresh orecchiette (or little ears in Italian) was a particular highlight from the pasta section, served with a rich mushroom and buffalo camembert sauce. Elegant fazzoletti (which translates as handkerchief) was a lot lighter. Thin, almost lasagne-sheet layers of pasta, interspersed with pistachio pesto and a good shaving of pecorino. All portions are small and designed to be shared. Aside from that, highlights include crispy braised lamb belly croquettes served with a pot of super spicy tomato tapenade.
We kept things quite light, sharing small dishes such as their particularly elegant take on a normally rustic panzanella salad, with a whole ball of burrata at the centre and plenty of fresh lemon and basil. Grilled corn on the cob, delivered on sticks were spiked with chilli butter and plenty of parmigiana whilst the highlight of the whole night was the lightly battered courgette flowers, stuffed with creamy ricotta and contrasting nduja.
We couldn’t quite squeeze in one of the seasonal pizzas this time but we had proper FOMO from looking at other tables.
Our classic old fashioned cocktails could have been a little smoother, but desserts hit the spot – particularly the cappuccino mousse topped with crunchy peanuts and salted caramel sauce.
Joe says ‘Passo is a beautiful restaurant and the opportunity to head up such a significant space in this part of town is an exciting one. I’m looking forward to bringing my own style of cooking and cooking in the open kitchen, introducing a menu inspired by Italian ingredients and techniques.’