Tiella’s Dara Klein: The Chef Bringing Italian Home Cooking To London
Hidden behind The Compton Arms pub in North London, you’ll find Tiella: a quaint Italian restaurant steeped in the narrative of family, tradition and a bond with the flavours of Italy, which opened at the start of this year. At the helm is Dara Klein, an Italian-born chef raised in New Zealand.
During her formative years, Klein’s world revolved around food. She spent her early childhood in Emilia-Romagna. Both her mother, hailing from Puglia, and her father, of Jewish descent from New Jersey, introduced diversity in their family’s kitchen. Subsequently, they relocated to New Zealand, where Klein’s mother opened her own trattoria, Maria Pia’s, which became the heart and soul of her upbringing.
The journey to Tiella began in 2018 when Klein moved to London, dedicating five years to chef life to determine if it was truly her path. She worked at a range of celebrated local London hotspots, starting at Rubedo in 2019, followed by Brawn on the renowned Columbia Road and finishing at Trullo in Islington. During this time, her close friend and Trullo sous chef Diarmuid Goodwin moved on to become the head chef at Sager & Wilde. Klein followed suit, helping Goodwin to build a new team and reimagine the menu. “Building something together was magical,” she says. “Then, earlier this year, The Compton Arms came knocking. I couldn’t ignore it.”
So, what sets Tiella apart from other dining experiences in London? “Tiella provides a very personal insight into the food I grew up with. There’s so much wonderful Italian food to be found in this city, and this is the version of Italian cuisine I learned from my amazing mother,” says Klein. She describes her cooking at Tiella as “very rustic, very warming and, according to some, much like a hug!” She takes pride in doing justice to traditional dishes, often opting for the slow, labour-intensive route to create flavours that require love and patience.
For those who can’t visit Tiella in London, Klein offers a glimpse into recreating Tiella’s flavours at home: invest in bay leaves, explore homemade semolina pasta recipes, slowly cook a lot of onions – “don’t be shy with high-quality salt and olive oil” – and dedicate eight hours to crafting a rich tomato sauce. Her final tip, she suggests, is to “share it with many friends and enjoy!”
Pia Brynteson is Digital Editor at Service95