Root + Bone vs Sorella

Words: Alex Denman   Photography by Steve Ryan

Root + Bone vs Sorella

We take on the whole menu

Robin Gill’s relaunch of The Manor in Clapham has been inspired by his time spent on the Amalfi Coast.

Reborn with a new name and new vision, Sorella brings an accomplished Italian local to Clapham Manor Street.

It was a real pleasure to be a guest of Robin’s on his own turf during daylight hours. In the past we have collaborated on various brainstorms and nocturnal pop-ups, plus attended his legendary “Bloodshot” nights at The Dairy. For those who don’t know, these events start at midnight, when chefs all over the city are finishing for the night, and end around 6am. Obviously we can’t go into more detail or we’d have to kill you.

In contrast, Sorella has the sense of calm and harmony that only comes with having experience on your side. Front of house, bar and kitchen teams all working seamlessly. We immediately felt like family here and it’s clear the team knows exactly what they are doing.

Head Chef Dean Parker and Gill have set out to design an Italian menu that would be ‘simple and thoughtful’ - they really have hit the nail on the head. Care and consideration for ingredients, and seasonality shows in the menu, and their choice of suppliers. Robin is known for working with suppliers and a framework of what’s in season, rather than trying to demand certain produce and ingredients.

Robin has also just published a book called Larder which shows his dedication to working with seasonal produce - whether it’s preserving or pickling in order to have a fully stocked arsenal of ingredients at your disposal. The sheer number of recipes in this book is mind boggling and he credits the farm and beehives of Don Alfonso restaurant in Naples with teaching him about seasonality.

As usual, with the Root + Bone ‘Versus’ format, we set this out in rounds like a prize fighter who has taken off his gloves and put on a bib. The objective is to take down the whole menu start to finish, although we should clarify that we order one of everything and share between our team of four, family-style. Ding ding!

Round 1 - Cicchetti

Elderflower Collins £9
A great place to start when you need to keep your palate sharp for an onslaught of bold Italian flavours. If you were here under different circumstances, like a first date, there are some solid Italian classics to calm the nerves. Negroni, Americano and a spritz to name a few.

Fried Nocellara olives £3.0
Anchovy centres to these mild olive nuggets gave us the full Mediterranean experience of seaside and olive grove all in one bite.

Truffle arancini £4.0
Italian umami bombs. Light and delicious essentials.

Carta Di Musica, aubergine & pecorino £3.5 

Carta Di Musica is unleavened crisp bread so named, because it should be rolled thin enough to read sheet music through it. We didn’t have the score from The Sopranos to hand, but will bring it next time.

Round 2 - Antipasti

Semolina sourdough & olive oil £2.5

We’re normally wary of eating too much bread on a ‘Versus’ mission, given the task ahead, but this semolina loaf was delightfully light and a perfect match for the Jersey Ricotta. We ordered more bread to mop it up.

Pork and fennel salumi £5.5

Black pepper Coppa £6
We were no longer in Clapham but had been transported to a shady olive grove, somewhere in Southern Italy with swine rooting around for truffles.

Prosciutto Marchigiano (20mths) £9
20 months sure makes for a delicate texture. We won’t be accepting anything less from now on!

Jersey ricotta, courgette & Basil £6
One of the standout dishes for me. Transforming courgette and basil into something vibrant and fragrant with lashings of olive oil. The crunch of seeds and nuts is offset with the freshest of ricotta.

Cacklebean egg yolk & peas £6.5
Hopefully our printers can do the colour of this egg yolk justice. Check out that Cacklebean colour! Thought it was a duck egg for a minute but it’s pure chicken - poached and cured.

Cuttlefish, olive & tomato £6.0
Hats off to the kitchen for slicing the cuttlefish just right and getting the proportions of salad and olive spot on here. Another standout for me.

Round 3 - Primi

Gnocchi Wild mushrooms & asparagus £13
Herb-flecked gnocchi hand-rolled to perfection. Any gnocchi that doesn’t bring on an immediate afternoon nap is a winner in my book.

Linguine with Devon mussels & bottarga £12
Shout out to Robin’s fish supplier Kernowsashimi here, your seafood linguine is only as good as your mussels and bottarga.

Pappardelle with pork & nduja ragu £12.5

This dish gets the biggest picture on our page. It was a knockout. Order it.

Tagliatelle with porcini & summer truffle £16
Truffles sliced like snowflakes.

With the serious business of carbs-loading behind us, we got the distinct impression that the kitchen was giving us some time honoured advice from the pass “Eat your greens”. Secondi and Contorni brought a welcome feast of colour and vegetable texture. Thankfully Robin knows how to write a balanced menu or we would have eaten ourselves to death ordering more pasta “Le Grand Bouffe” style.

Round 4 - Secondi

Brixham turbot on the bone £28.5
Another nod here to Robin’s fish supplier Kernowsashimi who reportedly text him each morning with a heads up about what’s on the boat.

“Lady Hamilton” cod tail, grezzina courgette & squid ink £13
A thick and glossy squid ink as it should be.

Herb-fed chicken, beans & salad £22
We needed some protein in our lives. And it came. Sweet, glazed perfection, with mint.

Round 5 - Contorni

Bbq summer cabbage £4.5
Wayne’s World - salad time - excellent! It really was time to eat our greens...

Bitter leaf salad & wild garlic £4.5
We harvested our own wild garlic back in March on Riverford’s Farm. Need this recipe!

Jersey Royals & salsa verde £5
Have to admit I skipped this one, knowing that one of my colleagues is mad for a potato.

At this point that famous Monty Python line that goes something like “but sir, it is only wafer thin...” came to mind...

Round 6 - Dolci

Pump street chocolate & anise gelato £7
Anise was a nice finish to rich chocolate, and I want to say Milo sprinkles to describe the crunch, but not sure that wouldn’t insult the chef.

Elderflower panna cotta & strawberries £7
Panna Cotta is a bit like chicken wings. If it’s on the menu, you have to order it.

Malted barley affogato & vodka milk £7
A welcome bit of theatre here as with all affogato the coffee mixing textures and temperatures - it’s all good.

Taleggio cheese & mustard fruits £7.5
Homemade Limoncello and Petit fours that were off the menu were the perfect finishers. This was the victory lap.

Big thanks to Robin and Sarah Gill, and the team at Sorella for making us feel like family. @sorellaclapham