V Cook—The River Café’s Risotto with Amarone di Valpolicella

The River Café is one of my favourite restaurants in London. Going there to eat and getting to chat with Ruthie is one of my great London pleasures. I’m so pleased they have shared one of their incredible recipes here for us all. VB

“Start small and grow slowly,” says Ruth Rogers, MBE, owner and chef at London institution The River Café. Opened in 1987, The River Café was the brainchild of Rose Gray and Rogers as a place to focus on, “classic Italian cooking using seasonal ingredients.” That simple recipe proved successful as tables at the boîte are just as coveted now as they were over three decades ago.

But it hasn’t been without its hardships including the passing of Gray in 2010. “Keeping the restaurant going after the death of Rose…[was] the most challenging,” says Rogers, however, after receiving their first Michelin star (in 1997) and receiving an MBE in 2010, what has been her greatest accomplishment? “Celebrating the restaurant’s 30th birthday with the incredible team I work with,” says Rogers. On that note, we asked Rogers to share one of her legendary recipes using ingredients from their holiday gift boxes that will have everyone’s tastebuds tickled this season.

The River Café’s Risotto with Amarone di Valpolicella

Serves: 6


300 millilitres Chicken stock

150 grams unsalted butter, softened

1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped

1 head celery, washed and finely chopped

300 grams risotto rice

1 bottle Amarone di Valpolicella

150 grams Parmesan, freshly grated

Créme fraiche (optional)


Shocking as it seems, you do need a whole bottle of Amarone for this risotto.

Don’t make it with any less.

Heat the chicken stock and check for seasoning.

Melt two-thirds of the butter in a large pan and gently fry the onion and celery for about 20 minutes or until light brown.

Add the rice and stir to coat with butter.

Increase the heat and gradually pour in 500 millilitres of the wine, slowly letting the wine be absorbed by the rice.

Then add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, stirring all the time and only adding more stock when the rice has absorbed the previous addition.

When all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is almost cooked, gradually add the remaining wine, stirring.

The rice will have taken on the colour of the wine.

Add half of the Parmesan and the remaining butter and season, taking care not to over stir.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan and a dollop of créme fraiche on top, if using.