Clapham’s modern bistro, The Manor, will close at the end of this year and chef/owner Robin Gill will re-open in late January as a “local Italian restaurant called Sorella.” It will re-open in much the same sprit as both The Manor, and its sister restaurant, The Dairy have done in the three years they’ve been open — with a produce-led focus.
The aim, they say, is to “diversify and bring something new to the neighbourhood.” Gill spent a number of years working on Italy’s Amalfi coast, which he says has hugely influenced this progression. “My time spent working in Campania in southern Italy has probably had the biggest impression on my approach to cooking,” the chef, who will instate Dean Parker as head chef, said in a statement.
“I was lucky enough to work at Don Alfonso 1890, a restaurant steeped in history and tradition that worked with ingredients coming from a farm overlooking Capri. I took Dean [Parker] to this very special place during the summer and we became inspired for change. The ingredient-led approach has massively influenced all that we have done at The Dairy, Counter Culture and The Manor but Sorella will hone in on all that we love about the Italian attitude to cooking and eating.”
The group has spent the last year working closely with Indie Ecology on their share of a farm in Sussex that they affectionately refer to as ‘Our Farm’. The farmers take the restaurants’ food waste and turn it into nutrient-rich compost which they use to fertilise their section of the land. The chefs and farmers then collaborate on a growing plan for produce which inevitably dictates what appears on the menus.
“It has been a dream of mine for years to open an Italian focused restaurant and now we have a farm that dream will become a reality. We will be working with the farm and our beloved suppliers to create a true neighbourhood Italian restaurant showcasing produce in a simple but thoughtful way,” Gill added.
The menu will take a traditional format: starting with cicchetti and antipasti such as fried olives, crispy anchovies and truffle arancini. Primi will include; “Julie Girl” cuttlefish linguine, cep gnocchi with girolles, and a seasonal ragù starting with venison pappardelle. Secondi will be larger and served family-style using whole cuts from rare breeds and daily changing fish sourced from Kernowsashimi. For dolci, expect Pump Street Bakery chocolate with fennel gelato and a frozen affogato with homemade coffee liquor.
Drinks will focus on twists on Italian classics: seasonal bellinis, a cherry smoked negroni, a bergamot Garibaldi and a house spritz. The key focus in the bar will on homemade liquors like finocchietto, limoncello and a house-made sweet vermouth. The wine list will be concise and purely Italian.