Coming to London Fields in September is Il Cudega, an Italian eno-gastronomia and deli dedicated entirely to the dishes and produce of the country’s northernmost region, Lombardy. Bringing a fresh perspective on Italian cuisine to London, Il Cudega will work directly with several small ‘slow food’ producers in Lombardy to showcase the best of the region’s cheeses, charcuterie and wines, many of which will not be available anywhere else in the UK. Open seven days a week from 8am until 6pm, Il Cudega will serve as both a café for sit-down meals and as a deli for take away produce and freshly-prepared meals to enjoy at home.
One of the highlights of the space will be a Focaccia Bar, where fresh flat oven-made breads will be cooked throughout the day and served Genovese-style, either plain or with a topping of crescenza (creamy cheese), a thin layer of melting lardo, or with bits of salciccia (sausage). As part of Il Cudega’s passion for bringing largely unknown dishes to London the oven will also be used to make Farinata (also called Cecina) a dish made of unleavened chickpea flour that can be eaten by itself or as a filling for the focaccia. Other classic dishes from Lombardy such as Risotto Giallo alla Milanese; Osso Bucco; Risotto Giallo Saltato (saffron risotto fried into a thin layer); and Zabaione (a dessert made with egg yolk, sugar and Marsala wine) will make up the remainder of the menu.
Another highlight of Il Cudega will be the incredible selection of charcuterie, cheese and wine imported directly from producers in Lombardy. Hams and salamis on offer include: Pancetta Cotta (bacon cooked and slightly smoked); Salamino Carbonella (a young salami smoked on juniper wood); Slinzega della Valtellina (similar to Bresaola); Coppa Ubriaca (submerged in Bonarda wine before seasoning). Just a few of the many cheeses available will include Raspadura (soft Grana Lodigiano); Taleggio di Grotta; Robiola appassita; Formagella della Val Sassina. Il Cudega will also offer its own branded bottles of wine such as Rosso di San Colombano; Lambrusco Mantovano; and Verdea (a dry white sparkling wine).
Il Cudega is situated in one of three railway arches being developed just off Westgate Street as Fount London, the other two housing a nursery and a mixed retail space. A shared outdoor area will provide a vibrant community hub, as well as gardens, bistro style seating, a gelato parlor, bike racks and a greenhouse growing vegetables for the restaurant. Il Cudega aims to be connected closely with the surrounding Hackney community and 10% of all profits will go towards funding community related activities and supporting food-related local charities.
Run by Giovanni Brighi, a Hackney resident of 20 years, and his Milanese business partner Luca Gaggioli, Il Cudega’s head chef Paolo Elesbani is from Brescia in Lombardy. Coming from a family in the patisserie business he grew up learning how to make patisserie, fresh pasta and focaccia, showing a passion for food and cooking that has been developed in a professional career since the age of 15. Together the whole team look forward to introducing Londoners to the flavours and culture of their native Lombardy.
Il Cudega, Arch 358 Westgate Street, E8