Alexandra Andronache — a journalism student at London College of Communication — tells tells us where to find authentic Romanian cuisine in the capital.
Since I moved to London, I’m always looking for places that give me that feeling of home. Fortunately, I’m among some 140,000 Romanians in London — and some of them have established traditional Romanian restaurants here, offering great food, a familial atmosphere and live entertainment. They’re affordable, too. Here are three of my favourites.
Romanians really know how to welcome people. At Mahala — which opened at this location in Croydon in 2016 — the decor might be modern, but the atmosphere’s warm and traditional. Most of the customers are regulars, but they make you feel like part of the family; you’ll find yourself joining in by watching the football, or (after a couple of Romanian wines), grooving to the live music.
Mahala is a great place to try the well-known Romanian dish sarmale cu mamaliguta (cabbage rolls with polenta) and mititei de casa Mahala — grilled minced meat rolls, made with its own special recipe. The dishes are not only delicious, but also beautifully turned-out. Be ready to snap away for Instagram.
Mahala, 83 Church Street Croydon, CR0 1RN
Restaurant Miorita, Harrow
Miorita is named after an old Romanian pastoral ballad (in English, ‘The Little Ewe Lamb’), which is one of the most important pieces of Romanian folklore, expressing the beliefs of the Romanian nation — particularly the relationship between man and nature.
Not sure what to go for? The ciorba de burta (tripe soup) is a traditional Romanian recipe made with beef tripe, garlic, sour cream, eggs, and vinegar. It has an amazing creamy texture and is a must-try for any culinary enthusiast. Oh, and ask any Romanian what traditional dessert you should try, and they’ll reply “Papanasi!”. Fruity cocktails and creamy shooters are a speciality too, and a great way to get the party started/keep it going.
Speaking of which: live music is part of the menu at Miorita, which is typical of most Romanian restaurants. Expect to be serenaded while you eat.
Restaurant Miorita, 215-219 High Road, Harrow, HA3 5EE
Restaurant Cornelius, Hornsey
Dubbed ‘the Best Romanian Restaurant in the UK!’ Cornelius’ menu brims with over 50 high-quality dishes to choose from — from smoky zacusca (a wonderful aubergine dip), to crusted rack of lamb with dill mash potato cake. For my money, you should try the tochitura — a traditional dish made from small cubes of pork, salty cheese, eggs, and polenta.
Unsurprisingly, Restaurant Cornelius loves to entertain its guests; this is the perfect place to spend a Saturday night with friends, enjoying the music and cheerful vibes until 2am. There’s also a garden for partying the night away in warmer weather.
Restaurant Cornelius, 1 New River Avenue, Hornsey, N8 7QD
This article was written as part of a collaborative project between Londonist and London College of Communication.