Since opening up its first pop-up a decade ago in Dalston, Rita’s has firmly made its mark on London’s food scene. A cult classic on the city’s culinary map, Rita’s cut the ribbon on two permanent locations last year: sarnie shop-slash-deli Bodega Rita’s in Farringdon; and Rita’s Dining in the heart of Soho.
Covering all bases between quick (but delicious) lunches and a more indulgent dining experience, Rita’s founders Missy Flynn and Gabriel Pryce translate their personal experiences through their rich culinary vision, heavily inspired by their travels across the Americas. We’re talking salami and prosciutto subs with pesto, pickles and cheese dust at Rita’s Bodega, and saffron and burnt tomato fregula, dry spiced chicken wings, and braised lamb mole coloradito at Rita’s Dining.
Ahead of the festive season, we asked Missy and Gabe to share their top tips for putting together the perfect dinner party – Rita’s-style.
The ideal dinner party location…
“We made the decision to move into central London to be closer to the restaurant, but that comes at a compromise because we now have no space for entertaining at home. No stress though, the restaurant is our second living room and we often host friends at different points in the year, for various occasions. It suits us both to do it this way – plenty of space to cook, lots of fridge space and lots of variables to play with in the form of lighting, music, layout and table dressing. In summer, we had a lot of friends and family birthdays in the garden, and this is something I am looking forward to next year already. I’ve had two birthdays here! Kind of magical to be in a hidden walled courtyard on a hot summer night with your favourite people.”
The perfect playlist…
“We get a lot of compliments on the music at the restaurant, which I put down to it being a truly collaborative endeavour. We have a lot of shared music references but also our own personal pleasures which come together in a bit of a vibe rollercoaster, but in a good way. I’m not a huge fan of hearing one genre of music all night, and my favourite thing is to mix some really good music with minimal lyrics to build a mood, then when the ambience is good, just drop a big sing-a-long banger everyone knows, one that breaks the mood a little and moves things in a more lively direction. From there you can dial it up or down depending on the response.”
Photo / Rita’s
The best dishes to serve…
“People pleasers that don’t take up too much time. Spend time with people, not slaving over a stove. I’d probably cook one hot thing, a joint, a bake, or a casserole, and then a bunch of salads and cold stuff. Basically, the easiest buffet possible. A ‘spread’ is just a buffet for your circle.”
The perfect cocktail accompaniment…
“A mandarin and Sichuan peppercorn mezcal margarita – strong, seasonal, and spicy!”
20ml fresh mandarin juice
10ml fresh lime juice
10ml Sichuan peppercorn (2:1 brown sugar syrup infused with Sichuan peppercorns)
10ml triple sec
Shake all of the above with ice, strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with some sal de gusano, or ‘worm salt’ if you can get it, otherwise smoked sea salt will do.
Rita’s is located at 49 Lexington St W1F 9AP and Rita’s Bodega is located at 91 Cowcross St EC1M 6BH.
For more info click here and check out Rita’s on Instagram.