Ombra is of Venice. With strong personal connection and deep roots in this famous Italian city, we at Ombra share the enjoyment of the simple pleasures of daily life and simple unpretentious cooking, eating and drinking. Ombra is like a Venetian bacaro (a simple osteria for drinking to eat and eating to drink) and transported to a canal-side of East London.
Bringing this spirit of the Venetian bacaro makes for a place that is lively and friendly. A place where people can relax over a glass of wine, one of our famed selection of Spritz, a fine cup of coffee or a plate of cicchetti or simply soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the company of friends.
The name Ombra literally means ‘shadow’, in Venetian dialect it’s the familiar term for a small glass of wine, which originates from the traditional wine sellers retreating to the shade of St. Mark’s Tower to shield the wines from the hot sun. Similarly, Ombra is a place where you can retreat to the shade, protected from the hot spots of London, and chill out at a place that is yours, taking your time over fresh homemade pasta, seasonal vegetables, fresh fish and meat, organic wines and good old conversation.
Our chef is Andrea and he really is a Venetian Pirate. He is self trained Long John Silver with the calming influence of his grandma (daughter of a butcher), who was an exceptional cook in the traditions of Modena local cuisine.
Like many aspiring Venetians, Andrea hustled the bars and the bacaros of Venice to help pay his debts and embraced the world of the kitchen with a passion.
In the early 1990s Andrea found paradise in the larger-than-life world of the famous Paradiso Perduto and Biennale favourite, Ai Tosi Piccoli. Frying fish in boats, or cooking long forgotten Venetian classics for his friends would be something he would do in his spare time. Somehow in in 2009 his boat landed in Mykonos where he became chef and host at Il Castello di Sabbia. This rekindled a desire to find new ways of interpreting the old and an awareness of the origins of culture and cuisine.
When East-London based architects Paolo, Steve and Armand had the idea of an independent Venetian bacaro, Andrea was the ideal captain. When his old shipmates in London told him about Ombra, he was here as quick as a clipper.
At Ombra, Andrea is your chef and host. He will cook you a pasta carbonara or pesto the original way, he will fry you the best fried fish, he will surprise you with forgotten Venetian classics and he will make you smile. One of his favourite quotes is from Capote; *I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil*.
From the blog Eating the Year:
“Andrea is an extraordinary man who knows no law and heeds no gods. He cooks what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, with the most generous and free of spirits. He joins the table, breaks bread with you, chooses your food, and prepares it whenever he’s ready. Yet you feel grateful, lucky even, because home cooking this authentic come in no restaurant I know. Except Ombra.”
We believe in the simple things. Forget about fancy fine dining or pretentious service. Forget about microwaves, frozen food and mass produced wines. Forget about trendy motifs and menus.
At Ombra our philosophy is about keeping a simple and real approach to food and drink. Like the best Italian osteria’s our menu changes everyday, all pasta is made on the premises everyday but we have a strict no wastage policy which means that all ingredients are sourced carefully and specifically to suit seasons and days of the week.
Our excellent wines are from small Italian producers. In the most they are real wines, and this means that at source the wine makers have a passionate and skilled approach to the land, the grape and the palate. They truly respect nature and the terroir, and it is a pleasure for us to offer such wonderful wines.
Our philosophy is therefore the simple approach of eating to drink and drinking to eat. As long as its good food and good wine, the balance will allow for a good time.
We are known for our excellent pasta which we make everyday from the very best Mediterranean durum wheat and fresh free-range eggs. Our traditional Venetian dishes are rooted to the old ways, Baccalà Mantecato, Pasta al nero di seppia, sarde in saor and fritoin and polenta you will find just like in the real Venice. Our other Italian dishes also aim to replicate the simple original form of the dish, such as pesto genovese, parmigiana, rump steak tagliata, porchetta, and vitello tonnato. For the sweet tooth we keep it to
locally made gelato from the amazing Hackney Lick and homemade chocolate salami, tiramisu and occasionally special seasonal treats. Most of our ingredients come from local suppliers with some specialist imports to ensure high quality hams, salami, and cheeses. We try to keep fruit and vegetable as organic and as seasonal as possible and our we only buy fish when we are sure of its quality and freshness.
Ombra brought Spritz to East London in 2011 and set a growing trend in the area. We do Aperol, Campari, Cynar and Select and we mix with our own draught prosecco supplied by Passione Vino, and serve in a tumbler with ice, soda, olive and orange or lemon. It’s the no-nonsense way, and this approach has been applauded by the likes of the London Evening Standard, Londonist for amongst the best Spritz and Negroni in London.
So, we made a spritz deck. It’s one of the five best alfresco drinking spots in London according to Elle Magazine where along with Spritz you can also have some of the city’s best Italian wines supplied by Passione Vino and Cave du Pyrene, and some of the best craft beers.
Our wine list is given regular attention and we support small-scale wine makers, who make artisan and natural wines with a great passion and in the respect of the terroir. Some of our current highlights include: Frappato by Cos, an autochthonous Sicilian red grape variety; Monte di Grazia, an organic red wine from 120 year old ungrafted vines unaffected by phylloxera, from a small winery close to Amalfi; Sottoriva Malibran, a totally dry, cloudy Prosecco, produced with the method of spontaneous re-fermentation in the bottle.
Our everyday beers are of course Italian (Messina & Peroni) but we also love our craft beer and have a range including Redchurch, Kernel, and Birreria del Borgo and keep a look out for new beers that we aim to match with seasonal food.
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