I recently enjoyed a very special dinner at Pulia, a super cute & inviting restaurant tucked behind Borough Market.
A lover of Italy and all things Italian, Pulia was already off to a good start, but it’s the little things at this restaurant which really makes it stand out.
As well as providing a warm space to dine in, Pulia doubles as a deli where you can just pop in and stock up on your favourite homemade Italian delicacies.
Organic olive oils and wines, breads, artisanal pastas, meats, cheeses, pestos, sauces, pates and sweet treats can all be bought in abundance.
Pulia was founded in 2012 by owner Michele Lastilla whose mission it was to introduce the world to the culinary traditions of his hometown, Puglia. The staff are all from the region and incredibly passionate about their produce and providing their customers with the best possible experience, which I think always shines through and improves your meal tenfold.
It was truly one of the nicest meals that I’ve had out, on all accounts.
The wine menu is very short with only a few bottles per colour, but a bottle of ‘Nero di Troia’ (£25.00) proved that you don’t need much choice or a hefty price tag to get a good bottle of wine.
We started with some taralli, a traditional south-Italian snack that can be sweet or savoury, though we had the savoury version which served as yummy nibbles with a glass of red, but which were most definitely not needed considering the generous onslaught of food that we were about to encounter.
The mixed baked products board (3 assorted pieces for £10.00) contained tomato & mozzarella rustici, tomato & mozzarella panzerotti, turnip tops (broccoli rabe) panzerotti, ham & mozzarella and scamorza croquettes, pizza rustici (deep-fried) filled with onion, and tomato & black olive focaccia.
The tomato & mozzarella panzerotti and tomato & black olive focaccia were my personal favourites, but I was impressed by the number of variations of fresh breads and fillings that Pulia had to offer.
Then came the mixed charcuterie board including a selection of hams & cheeses from Puglia (small £12.50, large £17.50).
Capocollo (the pork equivalent of beef bresaola), faeto ham, lardo, burrata heart (the creamy insides of burrata, i.e. the best bit) and baked scamorza all featured, and were easily devoured, with the meats all clearly freshly sliced with that desired softness and full of flavour, and the baked scamorza tasting like the best bits of a pizza.
Because more cheese was evidently needed a (very large) side of burrata with tomatoes & olives (£9.60) arrived alongside the meats.
It was definitely the best burrata I’ve had in London; so soft & creamy, it was perfect, and far superior to Scalini’s £21.50 offering.
On to mains (no, I’m not joking), we started with the parmigiana layered with ham (£9.00), which was my least favourite of the dishes that we sampled with the ham overpowering the other flavours and the slightly crisp edge retracting from the aubergine’s usual fleshiness.
However, this was easily forgotten when followed by the immense pasta of the day (£9.60) and octopus salad (£9.00).
Squid ink ravioli stuffed with fresh crab was simply spectacular.
The pasta was perfectly al dente and the crab filling generous and so tasty. The sauce completed the dish to a very high standard.
As for the octopus salad… my favourite salad?! Ever?!?! Again, a large portion of very tender octopus dressed in a light & citrusy olive oil sitting atop bitter rocket was an absolute winner of a dish.
For dessert (yep, unbutton your pants), we tried the trio of pasticciotto (trio of small for £7.50), which are shortbread cakes filled with custard, custard & cherry, and chocolate & hazelnut, and uniquely served warm with your choice of olive oil.
Our lovely waiter kindly brought us the most luxurious and expensive olive oil that Pulia has to offer for us to try with our dessert.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been mad for olive oil, much preferring a slab of butter with my bread to the runny golden liquid, but when you taste good quality olive oils alongside one another you really can tell the difference and note the different flavour infusions.
The homemade pasticciotto were so delicious, my favourite being the custard & cherry which tasted like a much-improved Bakewell tart, though all of them were super tasty, and particularly so dipped in the lavish orange-infused olive oil. Still, I can’t say that I would have refused some ice-cream.
The food was very good and absolutely excellent value, but what really makes Pulia such a special place to enjoy a meal is the people, whose passion for their home and food is so genuine that you can’t help but fall slightly in love with them.
I dined as a guest of Pulia, but all opinions are my own.