This week’s star is a little gem. Polentoni (not Paul and Tony) which was opened in 2014, can be located in the shadow of Easter road football ground, home to the famous Hibernian football club. Franco Pratico and his wife Sarah have created an extremely popular Italian deli which have people coming back, time after time to sample the delights they are known for. Polenta is one of the main ingredients used by the people from the north of Italy. Polentoni is the nick name given to a person of a larger girth who, shall we say, eats a little more than they should. Polenta is traditionally eaten with any type of stewed beef or perhaps game meat, simmered with garlic, onion, herbs, wine and stock. It’s a marriage made in heaven.
Polenta is made in a similar fashion to our own native porridge, with the addition of Parmesan cheese and butter to season and flavour it. Once ready, it’s normally turned out and shaped on a large wooden board, where the Polentoni using a string to cut it, would portion it out onto the guest’s plate and pour the sauce on top.
Way back as a young student in 1976, when I worked in the Zumstein hotel in Macugnaga in the Dolomites, polenta was one of my first memories of traditional Italian food that I’d never seen before. Extremely filling and reasonably cheap to make, it sets you up for the day.
Franco also specialises in making wonderful hand crafted bread which is produced fresh, daily, and then filled with delicious cheeses, salami, mortadella; a large Italian sausage; and their speciality, homemade porchetta, which is a rolled fatty pork roast. The sandwiches, in my mind, are the best to be had in Edinburgh and very reasonably priced at around £3.50.
Franco also serves wonderful pasta dishes at lunchtime. My favourite dish, Ragu di fegatini with pappardelle, is slow cooked chicken livers, seared in quality olive oil, garlic, onions, fresh herbs and white wine reduced for a couple of hours to a dense sauce which coats the pappardelle, then it is dusted with parmigiana, to create a dish which is second to none. To finish, with your coffee, Polentoni’s has a great selection of homemade cakes and biscuits, all served by Sylvia at the front counter. What else could you need for lunch?
So, the next time you are in town, looking for somewhere to go for a bite to eat, head to polentoni, and tell Franco, JB sent you!!
Bon appetito amore, amore…