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Founder and Managing Director, Andrew Macleod

interviewed by Emily Spencer


"I believe we eat with all our senses – it’s an immersive experience"

Founded by Andrew Macleod to fulfil his lifetime dream of opening the best pasta restaurant outside Italy. Emilia’s is an immersive, authentic Italian experience.

Where did the idea behind Emilia’s come from, and what are the key factors that have set it apart from other Italian restaurants in the competitive London restaurant scene?

I grew up on pasta, born of the millennial generation for whom pasta was an everyday item. Family trips to Italy further inspired my interest in this simple yet complex staple. I came to appreciate the level of craft involved in creating this delicious and aesthetically pleasing food. You don’t see potatoes, rice or bread created in the multitude of fun shapes you’ll find pasta. At Emilia’s we are passionate about how pasta is made lovingly by hand.

Emilia’s pasta is made by hand each morning. Do you believe it’s the freshness and handmade element which is has garnered such a loyal following of customers?

Making pasta is a craft. No two pasta makers create exactly the same pasta hence why it is still considered a craft – simple variations in the process make for a completely different flavour profile. We think our balance of ingredients, quality of those ingredients and the care that we put into creating the wonderful shapes is what sets Emilias apart from other pasta restaurants and has led to such a dedicated following.

In recent years, some might think pasta has lost its appeal due to the popularity of clean eating / low carb diets.  Has this been the case and if so how did you overcome it? Were you able to dispel the myth that pasta is unhealthy?

People are getting wiser about food nutrition. Our hand-crafted pasta is made from semolina and water or semolina and eggs – this is a nutritious combination and when joined with the addition of a good protein such as our grass-fed organic pasture certified beef and lamb from a small farm just outside Bristol, you have a healthy satiating meal which, most importantly, is delicious.

What have been the main contributing factors to Emilia’s success?

Hard work, honesty, an obsessive attention to detail. But most important of all is a true love of food but especially the craft side of pasta and Italian cooking.

You have a chef’s table at your restaurant and intend to offer masterclasses. How important do you think it is for customers to fully engage in their food and the experience as well as the consumption?

Fully engaging customers in their food experience is hugely important to me. Firstly, we want to be honest with our guests and the chef’s counter seats allow everyone to see how everything is made. Experiencing this ‘pasta journey’ from start to finish is very important to getting maximum enjoyment from your dish. I believe we eat with all our senses – it’s an immersive experience.

Pasta masterclasses are another way of amplifying the Emilia’s experience. I believe that in this generation of technology and social media we are becoming more and more experience driven, as opposed to materialistically driven and we are trying to be at the forefront of that. We are very excited to be launching our masterclasses at the start of 2019, shortly after the launch of our second restaurant. Our aim is to pass on the craft we’ve learned about pasta making to the next generation of pasta lovers.

The brand is relatively new, with its second anniversary in January 2019, where do you hope Emilia’s will be in 5 years’ time?

I don’t think that far ahead! I take each day and each pasta shape at a time! I really want us to be recognised as the best and most engaging pasta restaurant in operation. We plan to open a second site in 2019 in Aldgate and my focus will simply be to bring our unique crafted pasta to a wider audience.

What have customers told you they’ve most enjoyed about their experience at Emilia’s?

All our guests have different things they love about their experience at Emilia’s. Some like our youthful casualness and positive energy – we enjoy what we do! The dining experience has received many plaudits because we have a lovely balance between flavour, density, freshness and lightness.

If you could start Emilia’s all over again, what would be the one piece of advice you would give yourself?

Never lose sight of your passion and the reason why you’re sacrificing so much personally in order to pursue the dream. Make sure you envelope yourself with a talented and experienced team to help through the difficult times.

What other new restaurant brands are you most excited about and why?

One of my favourite restaurants is Lure Fish Kitchen situated in North London. Their sustainably sourced fresh fish is incredible, and the head chef never leaves the kitchen! They really care about the quality of their produce, where it’s sourced from and the whole journey from the sea to your plate. Would be nice to see them open another restaurant somewhere closer to home as you can eat amazing fresh fish there for under £25 per person.

What are the current trends in the marketplace and do you see this changing anytime soon?

My generation care about the environment and animal welfare. I see vegetarianism and veganism continuing to grow. There is also a disenchantment with restaurant chains which are seen increasingly as bland and dull, so I see more quality specialist independents with keen price points.

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