Antonio Carluccio shares his love of pasta with Wharfers

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A quick glance at the throng of diners opting for an al fresco lunch in Reuters Plaza and you could have easily missed silver-haired Antonio Carluccio.

Granted, he's not suited and booted like the majority, but he's blended in almost seamlessly with his fellow Wharfers by pulling up a chair, ordering a drink and relaxing back under one of his restaurant's iconic blue parasols.

But then there's the small pile of books and stream of fans - eager for a selfie, book signing or both - that arrive alongside us as well as the fact there's more than seven decades of Italian foodie expertise behind those sparkling eyes.

The superchef, though, is equally enthralled by those of us who make our lunchtime beeline for his restaurant.

"I'm pleasantly surprised it's so full," he says, while pondering the exact number of those on the estate.

"In so many years we've made a good name for ourselves - people like the food, they like the principles, the service and it's not expensive.

"But all the workers coming here? It's unbelievable."

The 77-year-old's visit is tied with the launch of his new book, Antonio Carluccio's Pasta, as well as the Carluccio's La Festa della Pasta, running throughout his restaurant chain until July.

The chunky hardback, he says, is crammed with authentic and simple plates reflecting his passion for pasta.

Even, he insists, home-made pasta without a machine.

"All these recipes are very easy to make and this reflects my principle, the minimum of fuss, maximum of effort," he says, eyes wide as he enthuses over the "mind-blowing" burrata in his recipe for large green ravioli, before ordering a ball of said cheese.

"It fits very well with those in Canary Wharf. People want to be quick but have good food.

"The world is far too much geared to quick but if you have something pleasurable you can eat, it refreshes parts only food can reach."

He reflects on the challenges of the new book.

"This book was difficult as I had written recipes for the first [book I wrote for the BBC] and I didn't want to repeat the same.

"They're all new recipes - with the exception of one or two which are so classic you can't change, like carbonara."

The mouth-watering example gracing the front cover, pennoni giardiniera, is one such creation, raising more than £1million for Action Against Hunger during its time on the restaurant menu with over 2.4million portions of the huge, super soft penne and crunchy spinach balls served.

And if that isn't enough, Carluccio suggests pasta as a dessert.

Prune dumplings and chocolate noodles are dishes often cooked within a traditional Italian kitchen, he says, but not in a restaurant.

"There are some people that are mad for pasta - so OK, they can have it for dessert as well," he smiles, before saying farewell to a fan who admits he dines at the Wharf hotspot every time he eats out.

Antonio Carluccio's Pasta, published by Quadrille, costs £20 and is available in Carluccio's Canary Wharf.

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