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Polpo Founder Russell Norman Opens Up on His Next Restaurant in Smithfield

The London restaurant cycle clicks into gear, but things have changed: Polpo’s founder in a new guise, and a Spanish institution going suburban

A birdseye view of a wooden dinner table laden with Florentine and Tuscan dishes, including tonnato, peposo, and beans
A selection of test dishes for Russell Norman’s upcoming Trattoria Brutto, captured by the chef-owner
Russell Norman/Instagram

Russell Norman’s Tuscan vision gets closer to opening in Smithfield

Trattoria Brutto, the upcoming Florentine restaurant from Polpo co-founder Russell Norman, is clicking into gear as it prepares to open in September. Norman, who divulged its Smithfield location in May, has appointed Oli Diver as head chef, saying:

Oli is heading out to Italy in the next few days to join Russell in Florence where they will be continuing their menu research and visiting suppliers ahead of the opening of Brutto. While the menu will offer refined and elegant classics such as vitello tonnato, panzanella, chicken liver toasts, lamb chops al cartoccio and pappardelle with wild boar, there will also be some rarer authentic Florentine hero dishes like peposo (a stunning beef stew), rosemary flatbread with broad bean purée, lampredotto (spicy tripe in a crusty panino) along with abundant salads made tableside and thrilling seasonal vegetables from Natoora.

Diver’s background includes stints at Allegra, the Stratford restaurant run by former Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell, Anthony Demetre’s Wild Honey, and the early days of Polpo. Norman has also appointed former Polpo group general manager Monique Sierra to run front-of-house.

Brutto will open early, for coffee, pastries, and “breakfast prosecco,” with interiors taking inspiration from “urban Tuscany.” And those who look back fondly on the late 1990s/early 2000s of the city’s European restaurant scene have much to look forward to in the coming months, with former Polpetto head chef Florence Knight making her own return to restaurants with Sessions Arts Club, also in Clerkenwell.

And in other news...

  • After a noble, if sometimes grandstanding moratorium on negative restaurant reviews, London has its first reminder that critique is something all healthy restaurant cities need. Jimi Famurewa’s review of Ave Mario, the third restaurant from Big Mamma Group — also behind Gloria and Circolo Popolare — is not one of mean-spirited barbs, but a dissection of the restaurant’s aims in London’s current context, and how and why it fails to meet them.
  • Spanish group Brindisa’s first big restaurant move of 2021 is to leafy riverside suburbia, setting up shop with a huge site in Richmond. [Hot Dinners]
  • JKS Restaurants — behind Gymkhana, Lyle’s, Trishna, Bao, and Sabor, among others — will reopen Arcade Food Theatre as Arcade Food Hall this autumn.
  • Good tweet: