Chef Aktar Islam seals Italian love affair with the launch of Legna

Chef Aktar Islam seals Italian love affair with the launch of Legna

Top chef Aktar Islam will realise a culinary dream when he opens an Italian restaurant, Legna, in Birmingham city centre.

Legna, which is Italian for “firewood,” will blaze a trail for Italian cooking, championing the finest ingredients and market-fresh produce, delivered with Islam’s unmistakeable panache and attention to detail. Diners will be able to enjoy a selection of delicious hot and cold snacks, such as classic salt cod fritters, cured meats and olives, to be eaten at the bar or in the dining room.

The main menu at the 70-cover restaurant will focus on eight starters and eight main dishes. The luxurious decor, punctuated with warm timber and copper design motifs, will create an intimate space with a unique sense of place.

Scheduled to open in November, Legna is the latest venture from Aktar’s expanding AI Restaurants, following the group’s upscale Indian restaurant Opheem, which is situated close to Legna in Summer Row.

Aktar fell in love with Italian food when he worked at the former Quod restaurant in Birmingham nearly 20 years ago. He said: “This is the culmination of a dream for me and I am so excited about welcoming guests to Legna. It truly will be like no other Italian restaurant in the city, both in its vision and its delivery. We’ll stay true to traditional Italian cooking techniques; however, our dishes will have the flair and innovation that diners have experienced at Opheem.”

“Our chefs will focus on a relatively small number of great dishes to ensure customers’ expectations are always matched and hopefully exceeded. Gone are the days of over-long menus. Customers now want authenticity and quality, not overload.

“It was while working with Italian food that I learned about the beautiful simplicity of ingredients like ripe tomatoes, single estate olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and the finest buffalo mozzarella. Great Italian food is all about letting the ingredients speak for themselves, and this will be the philosophy at Legna.”

With its emphasis of freshness and authenticity, Legna will offer just two varieties of homemade pasta, which will change regularly to give chefs the scope to capitalise on the best seasonal produce.

Rustic breads such as focaccia and ciabatta and a choice of three perfect pizzas, including a classic margherita, will be cooked in a wood-fired oven. The oven will also be used for classic slow-cooked meat dishes and seafood specials such as salt-baked sea bream.

Legna occupies the site of the former FSK restaurant, which was operated by Aktar as Mi Amore while the long-term plan for Legna was developed.