One of London’s best Italian restaurants, Theo Randall is also one of the most famous chefs in England. Inspired by the trattorias and wood-fired pizzas of his childhood trips to Italy, Randall developed a life-long passion for Italian regional cuisine. Randall's restaurant career began at Chez Max in London, where he trained in classical cuisine for four years, then moved to California to work at Chez Panisse under chef Alice Waters for a year, upon which he returned to the UK and spent the next 17 years as head chef at London's celebrated River Café where he gained his first Michelin star - and also trained a young Jamie Oliver. During that time, Randall was credited with creating many of the restaurant's celebrated dishes and made The River Café an establishment that "changed Britain’s restaurant culture for good". Always wanting to open his own restaurant, Randall left when a space became available at The Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane. Opened in 2007 as part of a £60 million refurbishment of the hotel, his eponymous restaurant is still celebrating its 10th anniversary with a refreshed sleek modern light wood aesthetic, including a ‘kitchen table’ and updated menu to compliment Randall's signature dishes.
The chef is a master of selecting the finest ingredients at the peak of in-season freshness and showcasing them in simple ways that transmit the essence of Italian cooking where an appreciation of ingredients can transform a simple pasta course into something sensational. Authentic pasta dishes such as Cappelletti di Vitello and Pappardelle con Ragù are made fresh every day using Italian tipo 00 flour and eggs sourced from Genoa, where the chickens are fed a diet of carrot and corn resulting in a stronger coloured yolk and a pasta of rich yellow. Theo's sensational bruschetta with vibrant red roasted Campania tomatoes and warm squishy rosemary focaccia is quite possibly the very best on the planet. The Sformato di Fontina, a baked Fontina cheese soufflé with spinach, cream and Parmigiana, is light as air and absolutely heavenly, and his pastas are a testament to his passion for Italian food. Our second time dining at Theo Randall while in London, his superb dishes keep us returning each time, and as the proud author of two cookbooks — 'Pasta' and 'Simple Italian' — he makes it possible to enjoy many of his classic recipes in the comfort of your own home.
A perfectly starched linen napkin with Theo Randall inginia
Theo Randall menu of simple but sensational Italian dishes
Adami Garbel Prosecco Brut from the hilly vineyards in the Colli Trevigiani area
Theo Randall's sensational grilled oven roasted tomato bruschetta and warm squishy rosemary focaccia
Sformato di Fontina e Zucca - Baked Delica squash and Fontina cheese soufflé
with spinach, cream and parmesan
2013 Ruffino Chianti from Tuscany
Cappelletti di Vitello - fresh pasta filled with slow-cooked veal with pancetta,
porcini mushrooms and parmesan
Pappardelle with slow cooked Beef Ragù
Vanilla Iced Cream
Theo Randall's signature Almonds, Pistachio and Hazelnut Biscotti and
Recipe courtesy of Theo Randall
This slow-cooked beef ragù is perfect for batch-cooking. Serve three tablespoons of ragù to every 3 1/2 oz serving of fresh pasta
4 tbsp olive oil
2 lb 4oz chuck steak, cut into 3/4- inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
12 fl oz Chianti red wine
1 lb 5oz tomato passata
Pappadelle pasta - approx 3 1/2 oz fresh or 1 3/4 oz dry pasta per person
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large, heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Season the beef, add to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary to the pan and cook until soft. Return the meat to the pan, add the red wine and bring to the boil. Stir in the tomato passata and cover the surface of the ragù with a circle of baking paper. Bake for 2½ hours. Remove the baking paper and break up the meat using a fork. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To serve, cook the pappardelle in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions, or until al dente. In a sauté pan, mix 3 tablespoons of the ragù per portion of pasta with a tablespoon of the pasta water. Cook on a low heat and toss together until the sauce clings to the pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Recipe courtesy of Theo Randall
For the béchamel sauce:
4 1/4 cups full-fat milk
3 oz unsalted butter
4 1/2 oz 00 flour
1 bay leaf
Good grating of nutmeg
4 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs yolks
For the ragù di manzo:
4 oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped celery
2 tbsp chopped carrots
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked, chopped
3/4 oz dried porcini, soaked 10 minutes in hot water, drained & roughly chopped
2 lb 2 oz trimmed veal or beef flank, finely chopped
14 oz can of good-quality chopped tomatoes
4 1/2 fl oz white wine
4 fl oz full-fat milk
9 oz package fresh lasagne sheets
olive oil, for greasing
large handful grated parmesan
For the béchamel sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan with the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and set aside. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat, then whisk in the flour and hot milk. Whisk vigorously until smooth, then cook for 10-15 mins until very thick. Remove the bay leaf and season, grating in nutmeg to taste. Stir in the parmesan and egg yolks, then set aside to cool.
For the ragù, melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat until foaming. Add the celery, carrot, onion, porcini, rosemary and some seasoning, and fry for 5 minutes. Season the meat, add to the dish and cook for 5 mins until browned. Pour in the wine, add the tomatoes and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on the dish and cook for 1 1/2 hours, removing the lid for the final 30 minutes so the sauce can reduce. The meat should be tender but not too broken up, and the sauce should be thick. Taste for seasoning. The sauce can cook it for longer if you have time, as the flavour will only improve.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Blanch the pasta sheets in boiling salted water for one minute, then refresh in cold water. Rub olive oil into the sides of a baking dish. Place a layer of pasta onto the base of the dish and then add an even layer of beef ragù followed by a layer of béchamel sauce. Repeat this process until you have used all the pasta and finish with a thick layer of béchamel on top. Sprinkle the top with a generous layer of parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until bubbling and pale golden-brown on top, then remove from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes. Cut the lasagne into squares and let it sit for another 10 minutes before serving, as this keeps the layers defined and helps it cool down more quickly.