Known for being vegetarian friendly, he offers both a vegetarian à la carte and set menu. Theo Randall expresses his enthusiasm for cooking vegetables, from his use of both Italian and English speciality suppliers to revolving each dish around what is in season. His fruit and vegetables are supplied by Natoora, an online supplier whom he began working with whilst at The River Café. The importance of using fresh, top-quality produce direct from Italy is an ethos that has remained with him, at the same time that he focuses on maximising the flavour of the individual vegetables – here, thinly sliced chicory shoots with red wine vinegar, anchovy and capers become a starter in their own right. His vegetable antipasti encompassing the likes of Swiss chard, red peppers and asparagus showcases his deep understanding of the ingredients required to create a good vegetarian plate.
Artichokes, a favourite ingredient of Randall, appear throughout his menu providing a classic pairing with roast rack of Somerset lamb in his Costata di agnello. Other meat and fish dishes that are a feature of his cooking include Linguine with Dorset blue lobster and San Marzano tomatoes and Spatchcock pigeon on bruschetta with cavolo nero, pancetta and porcini mushrooms. These dishes, underlined by seasonal vegetables, prove extremely popular with diners and critics alike.
Theo Randall is used to working in restaurants with signature desserts: in the past, at The River Café with its infamous Chocolate nemesis cake, and with his Lemon tart at the InterContinental, which was described by Jay Rayner as being ‘the best [I] have ever eaten.’
Some of his easy to follow recipes can be found in his two cookbooks Pasta (2006) and My Simple Italian (2015) allowing his passion for top-quality Italian food to become accessible to all. Theo Randall provides details on both cooking from scratch and dry pasta recipes, giving ideas on the best places to source ingredients for his pared-back meals. His books are informative, detailing how different food is used regionally in Italy – such as chicken livers in Rome, creating Tagliatelle alla Romana – and his enthusiasm for Italian cuisine shines through on every page.
Theo Randall was approached by Pizza Express in 2008 in order to create four bespoke pizza recipes to feature on their menu. His Piedmontese pizza – complete with red and yellow peppers, fontal cheese, red onions, Lilliput capers and anchovies – perfectly demonstrates that his profound influence on Italian-style cooking in Britain extends beyond fine dining.
Theo Randall’s no-nonsense approach to rustic, good-quality Italian food has seen him become a great success in Britain. No doubt his acclaim will continue to grow worldwide as he is set to open a new restaurant, Theo Mio, at the InterContinental in Bangkok in late 2015.