To be honest, I'm shocked I haven't officially reviewed this place yet. This is hands down one of my favorite restaurants in London.
The food is very inventive and simply delicious. Everything is extraordinarily fresh and the flavors are pretty fab. To make matters even better, you can order small plates and share with your fellow diners to maximize the tasting experience. My favorites are typically some of the pastas as well as the vegetables. Make sure to save room for Gelupo across the street! Owned by the same owners as Bocca di Lupo and tastiest gelato in all of London.
Advance warning, definitely try to book ahead. Sometimes you can get lucky and get a seat at the bar (prime viewing spot of the chefs at work), but best not to risk it when such high quality Italian is involved.
Very, very, tasty Italian food. I also like how the portions are offered in a smaller size, in addition to large, so you can try multiple items on the menu without stuffing your face.
I had the linguine and spider crab - neither ingredient was overpowering and it was followed nicely with a dish of the grilled squid dusted with bread crumbs and a light sprinkling of lemon. It was grilled just right, with a slight burnt crisp taste on the outside, and juicy flavor on the inside.
I was thoroughly intrigued by the espresso selection. Caffe allo zabaione! Espresso with beaten egg yolks that add a thick creaminess to the coffee.
Truly splendid. I highly recommend this place.
What a lovely little Italian restaurant in the heart of Piccadilly!
First, food was solid. We ordered calamaris and fried artichokes/mozarellas for starters, then an assortment of pastas/raviolis (crab linguini, spicy sausage, ravioli in olive sauce with nuts, plain tomato-based spaghetti) for main, and everything was perfect. In particular, the calamaris were the freshest and the tenderest that I had ever tasted; it even beat out the high standards I experienced in Italy! Also, my crab linguini was impeccable. As you might have noticed from my reviews, I'm generally a fan of tomato- and seafood-based pastas, and this ranks as one of my top three such experiences.
Second, service was good. I had made this reservation as a surprise early bday dinner for my mum, so asked for candles to be brought out when we order desserts. Unfortunately, they slipped on this request, after which I raised a gentle complaint. They were quick to bring out a new dessert on the house complete with candles, and three different staff members came by to check whether everything was okay. In general, they were friendly and eager to help from the moment we walked into the restaurant, so I appreciated the service despite the slip-up.
Highly recommended if you're looking for a wholesome Italian meal while strolling around Piccadilly!
Based on the reviews I was expecting a lot more. Service was good, food was mediocre but over priced for what it is. Won't be back.
The best Italian food I've had in London.
There. I've said it.
No, really. Can I give six stars? At least five and a half? Please?
I need to get all of this down now before (God forbid) I start forgetting things, and whilst still under the influence of a warm afterglow from having had truly spectacular food.
And the small/large plate distinction. Fanbloodytastic. In the end, 7 smaller dishes came to the same price as 3 large ones. And my God I was glad for the opportunity to try more of this amazing food.
My only disappointment, honestly, was that the best (main) dish of the day - the fried sage leaf with anchovies - was the first thing I tried. I think I made a face, contorted with such bliss, that must have made me look (even more of) a loony (than usual). Salty, crunchy, wonderfully balanced.
Milky, perfectly-fried balls of mozzarella were delightful. I've not seen this level of skill much outside of Japan, to be perfectly honest - and the ingredients were just of the best possible quality.
A singular pasta dish - why, oh why, was there only one pasta dish - was exquisite - the orechiette as beloved by so many other Yelpers - and I'm running out of superlatives here. Perfect pasta. I soaked up the rest of the wonderfully spicy and yet complex pasta sauce with a little of the remaining bread with completely undisguised glee.
A risotto was perhaps the only slight let-down. But then I've never really been a fan of risotto so I must on this occasion defer judgement - the waitress suggested that today's rendition was slightly too cheesy and slightly too creamy - completely without prompting - and whilst I admire the honesty, that's a level of criticism that even I find too harsh.
I only had one - an Aperol Spritz. It was, by some distance, the best example of the drink I've ever had - almost certainly due to the use of anything other than bargain-basement Prosecco. Beautiful and so refreshing on what was otherwise a glorious May weekend.
Dessert of profiteroles was as close to perfection as anything I've ever had the pleasure of eating. The pastry very much played second fiddle to more than generous portions of tiramisu, gianduja and ricotta and cherry ice cream, the latter of which might just have been perfect. I'm only really ashamed to admit that I only licked about half of the plate clean.
Service was cheeky, and all the better for it - always attentive, patient and unlike in some establishments of this calibre, not at all condescending. Incredible service in an Italian restaurant? Who'da thunk it?
And all this for just over £30 per head with drinks and service. I'm already desperate to go back.
Located just off Piccadilly Circus the restaurant is located is a happening area and you feel there is a real vibe as you settle. We came off the back of a strong recommendation...and having read some good reviews.
We started by sharing the small plates, the lambsweet breads with artichoke and sage, the second was the squid, courgettes, salt cod and red prawns and the third was the Pappardelle with duck ragu. The first two delightful with a blending of good flavours...the Pappardelle was not as good... chewy and light on flavour.
For mains we really loved the roast suckling pig with grapes and white wine...a stunning dish done to perfection!
The strawberries with gelato was a simple dish to good food night. We enjoyed a bottle a bottle of 2009 Barbaresco Santa Stefanco....came our off the cellar masters list and was drinking very smoothly, complimenting the good food.
The service was good and this experience lived up to the pre visit hype we had heard of....
So much love for the pasta here! I love this place. Its pasta beats anything I've had in London so far.
We had (favorites in asterisks)
*Ricotta ravioli with butter & sage (delicate and soft)
*Orechiette with 'nduja, red onion, and tomato (spicy and really delicious)
*Spaghetti with anchovy, saffron, pine nuts & raisins
Spaghettini with rabbit
Foie Gras Luganega (sausage) courgette flower
Cassata Siciliana (cake with marzipan, fondant, and pistachio)
Dairy free espresso gelato (amazinggggg)
The only thing disappointing was the foie gras sausage. It seemed kind of a waste to put it in a sausage because the flavor disappeared amidst the rest of the meat.
I'd never thought that, as Italian, I would love so much an Italian restaurant in London.
I highly recommend it: interesting and original menu, fresh ingredients, nice atmosphere. I hope to go back soon.
Excellent service, excellent food. A tad overpriced but great quality. Very authentic, having lived in Rome for three years I can honestly say that this is the closest any other place has come. The small pasta plate means SMALL are lovely for a starter and the food is always the best quality here. They change the menu frequently and use the freshest products straight from Italy. The venue itself is very small but if you can grab a table it is truly something special. You can make a reservation online, and if its only for two people they normally just reserve you a place at the counter, which personally I find uncomfortable (although you do get a great view of how the food is prepared) A little trick I use here is I reserve online for 3 people even if its only for 2 and they you are guaranteed a proper table.
Bocca di Lupo had been on my 'must try' list for a while. Oddly, we ended up here after unsuccessfully trying to get into a few other Soho restaurants and were told we could get a seat at the bar. I never turn away the opportunity to eat at the bar. It's one thing that London restaurants don't do enough of!
Overall, the food was good. There were a few blips but let's start with what worked:
* Octopus, roast tomato, celery & basil salad - this was the best thing we had and it was the roast tomato that really shined. Deep tomato-y taste which paired well with the basil and perfectly cooked octopus (not chewy, hurray!)
* Fried squid & blood orange slices - yes, this was 'just' fried calamari but they were fried with just a light dusting of flour (or something like that) and perfectly tender (again, not chewy, hurray!) The star to this dish was really the blood orange slices which were also battered and deep fried. Luscious!
* Sage leaves filled with anchovy - tempura battered sage leaves with salty anchovies. YUM. These were excellent.
* Olive stuffed with minced pork & veal - they were like olive dumplings!
* Orecchiette with 'nduja, red onion & tomato - delicious, saucy orecchiette pasta with chunks of red onion and tomato. A really lusty dish!
What worked less well were the following:
* Rosamarina - it's toast with a spread of spicy fermented neonati (fish fry) and chiles. You could barely taste any fish but just got a mouthful of heat. Don't get me wrong. I like spicy. This was just spice on toast which isn't really that nice.
* Baccala - yes, baccala is really just fancy fish and chips (w/o the chips!) but it can be really lovely. This wasn't bad but the salt cod had not been soaked long enough and was very salty. In retrospect, I'd get something else.
For dessert, we had the Bacio gelato which was essentially their homemade version of a big frozen baci candy. This was awesome!
Overall, a great meal. I'd definitely come back!
This is the only place in London I am willing to spend this amount of money for a single meal. The food is explicit and you tastebuds will have a brief moment of what heaven would tast like. Wine list is also very good and the waiters there really know what they are talking about. I must recommend one item on re menu, and that is the fried buffalocheese. Orgsm.
Absolutely loved this little gem of a restaurant. The food was fantastic, particularly the pumpkin ravioli!
Our server was on point and when asked which of the barbera wines was a better choice, he completely nailed it.
Very content, over ate but it was worth it!
Boy were we looking forward to this meal, the reviews were great and the menu looked fantastic. Underwhelming, nothing really lived up to the hype. We tried a number of things but time and time again they were just OK. Its expensive and mediocre so I'd skip it, not horrible but we'll not be back.
Blown away. Hands down the best eating I had on my recent trip to London.
I walked in with no reservation after seeing a show on a Friday night - and the friendly hostesses snagged me a seat at the bar. I would recommend sitting at the bar and watching the action happen in front of you, as chefs grill steaks and plate dishes and make magic inches away!
I loved the menu - I could hardly bear to choose one or two items and pass up on the rest. I also like how the menu tells you what region the food is from. I imagine it would be quite fun to match a dish with a glass of wine from the same region.
I had a few small plates - the sea bream carpaccio was sublime, as was the agnolotti. Although too full already, I couldn't pass up the Sicilian Cassata - orange, chocolate and marzipan are the holy trinity of desserts in my view. If you agree, save space for this glorious sweet.
Perfection from beginning to end! Our waitress was so kind and offered suggestions as we ordered with regard to portion size. Most of the dishes come in a small or large sizes. We really appreciated her help as the portions we had for each dish were just right!
I normally prefer table vs counter seating but at the counter you watch them prepare all the dishes which is always fun! After savoring every bite, head over to the gelato shop across the st!
Radish, celeriac, pomegranate & pecorino salad, truffle dressing
Artichoke alla giudia
Orecchiette with sausage ragú
Pork neck with honey & rosemary
Plenty to like about this place. The lovely speckled floor tiles reminiscent of so many cafes on the continent. The beautiful light. The sweeping bar. The atmosphere, loud, choc full of people clearly having fun. It's a great venue and you feel like you're somewhere special.
But I struggled a bit with the menu. Small or large plates they say, so you can structure the meal to suit you and your friends. Sort of tapas style I guess. But there are dishes there for £18 or £20. And the food. Ever so rustic. I love that, but much of it I found fairly challenging. A wild boar sausage thing that came out like meatloaf and was totally chewy and tough. Quail stewed with chestnuts that came whole and was again tough. Not sure how three of us were supposed to share that tapas style. Maybe that's not how it's supposed to be but that's how we were encouraged to order, so it didn't really work. Fish in batter that came out greasy. A warm salad of undercook potatoes salad. At best you'd call it rustic. But I just found it clumsy.
A shame because I enjoyed being there. If I go again I would maybe order a large plate for myself and leave it at that. The carpaccio of bream was delicious. And I enjoyed the sausage and lentils. So either of those would do nicely. Then sit back and drink in the atmosphere.
It was lovely. Food, service, decor, and atmosphere were fantastic.
All the food was really great, but standouts were the fried sage leaves w/ anchovies, burrata w/ eggplant and tomatoes, and radish salad w/ truffle oil.
I'd definitely go back on a special night out. Or sit at the bar to treat yourself!
I must say, this is one of the very few places that I disagree with the majority of reviewers. We had a few dishes and didn't like any of them.
really spectacular. busy, energetic, friendly, food is amazing, great atmosphere....
really my only note is the art work is not good... i know it's done by the mother of someone involved... not the best... but so easy to overlook
Incredible food and exceptional service. Sit at the chef's counter if you can
Went with my sister and her (now) fiance and it was a great visit from start to finish. We arrived a few minutes early, so they had yet to clear our table and set it up for us. As we waited, they offered us complementary prosecco and took our coats. Once we were seated, our waiter quickly appeared table-side to offer water and drinks. The cocktails we ordered were fabulous. I had a very summery cucumber and fruit drink which was really refreshing. From there, we asked some questions about how much to order (much of the menu is small plates, so you share), and then ordered about 7 dishes or so which was perfect. All of the food was well prepared and tasted great. The wine that our server helped pick out went brilliantly with the lamb. We also got dessert, which was fun because there's an option to get "mystery cones" so you have no idea what you're getting!
Overall, great food. It's a bit on the pricey side, so this was the one 'fancy' dinner that we had while the visited. The great thing though, is that it's not overly fancy. You get the great service and food, but don't need to be dressed to the nines.
Also, I'm told they try to keep bar seats for walk-ins (which is the best place to sit apparently) so you don't always need a reservation. (Though I'd recommend it)
Visited March 2013
This place is an absolute must!!! With out a shadow of a doubt. Excellent service all. Dishes from entres to deserts, all were just perfect.
Wow, this is my new favorite place in London. Fantastic food and service, a great wine list, it has everything one wants in a great restaurant.
Highly recommend getting a few small plates, for oneself or to share - it is worth trying a number of different items.
It is also great for vegetarians - there are a good number of veggie selections on the menu, so no one should go hungry :-)
Oh, Bocca, how I wanted to love you. It could have been so good, but plenty of little slips just really made you miss the mark.
Let's break things down.
It was the taller half's birthday and we scored a seat at the counter, opposite the chef. The counter seats are rather tightly cramped; the person sitting to my right didn't seem to get that (or had a few too many glasses of wine) and I kept getting elbowed, despite her petite size. That was unfortunate. Also, those of us who are vertically challenged and dressed to the nines might find it difficult to clamber onto the stool with anything approaching dignity (sigh). Not unusual, but something to be aware of.
The restaurant in general was far louder than I would have thought; not quite "yell in your companion's ear at a club" loud, but definitely necessitated raised voices to be heard.
While I'm normally the one domineering-- erm, directing-- the menu selection process, this time I gave up the helm. It was her birthday, after all. For starters, we got a slice of blood and pistachio sausage and the veal chop with sweetbreads and pears. For our mains, the suckling pig with chestnuts and partridge with polenta (which was sent back and exchanged for another dish), and a shaved radish salad to nibble on. Cocktails included a gin-based drink with cucumber and rose granita and a vodka-based drink with blackberry liqueur and lemon granita. Add a bottle of sparkling water, profiteroles for dessert and, service included, it all came out to £110.
Blood and pistachio sausage: overpriced for a single slice of what is essentially black pudding. Flavour was bland, with no distinct seasoning coming through. The pistachios were plump and fresh.
Veal chop and sweetbreads: veal chop was heavily breaded in greasy breadcrumbs and lacked enough salt and pepper to support the mild gaminess of the meat. Sweetbreads and pears were battered in a pleasantly crisp tempura batter. Pears were fine; sweetbreads were completely unseasoned and just slightly underdone, which meant they were chewy rather than pleasantly soft.
Our cocktails came out next. They weren't astounding, but they were a really solid idea for a place (presumably) without a star bartender: make a granita, top it with booze. It'd be difficult to go wrong, and these were certainly nice.
The mains came out together. The crackling on the pig was perfect, and the pork itself high-quality, juicy, wonderful. The portion was humongous and would have fed two. The chestnuts felt a bit like an afterthought, but they were fine and not overly sweet. Some acidity in the jus would have been appreciated to balance out the richness of the pork, but overall, this was the stand-out dish of the meal.
The poor partridge, on the other hand, was a disaster. It was overcooked on the breast side (completely dried out), and raw along the thigh and spine. I'm not one to shy from pink poultry, or even raw (when it's meant to be raw), but this was simply sloppy, uneven cooking on the chef's part. 30 seconds less on the breast, 40 seconds more on the other side, and this would have been a hit. I can't recall the last time I sent anything back, but this wasn't edible. Not wanting to wait "at least 30 minutes" for a new bird (and not convinced the chef would do it any more justice), I opted for pasta, since the man on pasta had his game-face on and seemed to be rocking his station. Little al dente parcels of home-made pasta filled with pumpkin and amaretti? Delicious, though compared to the pork, the "large" portion was a bit of a joke, and they could have used some sort of sauce. I wished for a dash of bitter or acidic to break up the sweetness (brown butter, a bit of fried sage, or a vinegar reduction?) but these were quite nice. For the portion, overpriced.
The shaved radish salad was wonderfully-balanced, with bold black radish and peppery red radish balanced out with pomegranate arils and a drizzle of olive oil. Unpretentious, pleasant, really good.
The profiteroles came out with the requisite birthday candle. Gelupo's gelato is, of course, solid (feel free to see my review for Gelupo). The profiteroles were filled with chestnut, pistachio, and hazelnut, all lovely flavours, and drizzled with a chocolate sauce. The choux pastry was a bit of a joke: clunky, bland, and obviously an afterthought.
What was also interesting was the atmosphere in the open kitchen. The chef was clearly having a thoroughly off night: we watched a pan get tipped upside down and a widgeon burned to within an inch of its life, along with a wood pigeon. He was exchanging sarcastic looks with the staff whenever a compliment was passed back to him. It was just odd, especially considering the open kitchen makes that sort of attitude visible to everyone.
Our waiter, while busy and distractable, was pleasant, bubbly, and mostly on top of things. Certainly no complaints there.
Bathrooms were filthy, smelly, and in poor repair.
Amazing! My girlfriend and I had the best meal at Bocca Di Lupo on our recent trip to London. Our server was brilliant and really steered us in the right direction. Some highlights were the fried sage leaves, fried stuffed olives, and the tagliatelle with ovoli mushrooms. Oh, and the blood sausage and wild boar sausage were delicious!
We'll definitely be back the next time we're in London!
So one of my friends was uber excited that I was going to Bocca Di Lupo for the first time in my life. Because it was his favourite restaurant. And OMG was he right.
The floor manager was so helpful- I dropped by a couple nights before to ask for a spacious table as I was dinging with severely pregnant lady.
When we arrived, we were given a nice cozy table and he offered us some bubbly to celebrate. We were slightly screwed for food as my friend couldn't eat raw meats and she didn't eat seafood, so we settled for sucking pig and pigeon with a side of butternut squash.
There were only 2 things wrong with the meal: Firstly the bread was a bit burnt (and I mean black)- dude, just don't serve it! Secondly, we asked for the pigeon to be medium well instead of medium rare (pregnant lady and all), and it came a bit bloody.
Only small niggles, in general we had a really good time and yummy food.
Had a late lunch at the bar. We ordered the burrata, tagliatelle with girolle mushrooms, orecchiette with sausage ragú, and one of the polenta dishes. All were really great. The buratta, orecchiette and polenta were fantastic and the mushroom pasta dish was good. It was a lot of food for two. The desserts also looked great but we didn't try any of them.
Visiting here from the US and was looking for a good place to have lunch. Came across this place on yelp so I decided to give it a try. It's a bit hard to find so you won't just run across it.
Got here around 230pm at the tail end of the lunch crowd. Was seated immediately as I asked for the bar which is right beside where the food is prepared in front of you. I ordered 3 of the small dishes. Carpaccio of beef, orichiette, and malfatti. All were extremely good. The service was quick and the food excellent. The only downside is that it's a bit expensive. All in all, very good lunch!
Great for dinner at the bar alone, or in the restaurant with pals.
I like to sit at the bar and view the kitchen at work...
Great food, great wine,great service
I eat out a lot mostly in NYC so it takes a lot to impress me. I was very impressed with Bocca. The food was sensational.
Had three special large plates. Best was mixed grill - tasty spiced pork fantastic. Mixed seafood - calamari was crisp on outside soft and tasty inside. Manchago was tangy and crumbly just perfect. Pasta was perfectly dente. I could go on and on. Wines were great. Service was as crisp as the wine.
A must go.
Such an easy 5 stars...
We popped in here today for lunch and grabbed a seat at the bar which overlooks the open kitchen. I love this kind of dining experience as there is so much to see, even before the kitchen's delicacies arrive in front of you. If that isn't for you there is also a more conventional seating area.
The menu is quite hard to fathom - almost everything can be ordered as a small plate or as a single bit of meat or fish. Thankfully our waitress proved an excellent guide, telling us when we had ordered just the right number of dishes for a lunchtime feast. Like any menu of this kind, the benefit of lots of little dishes is that even two people can get through a good selection of what the kitchen has to offer and we did just that.
The food itself was delicious. A pomegranate and radish salad was a fresh and fragrant beginning and two slices of Bonnet (a coffee, rum and hazelnut desert) made for a luxurious conclusion. In between, each dish displayed fresh, seasonal ingredients to delicious effect. The glasses of Italian wine which accompanied our meal were equally good - albeit, not being very knowledgable when it comes to Italian grape varieties it was something of a voyage into the unknown.
In a city devoid of good Italian food, this is a rare exception. Bravo!
Ok, So i will be the one ok-ish reviewer of this place I guess. My friend recommended this place and once I saw a review on yelp, I was sold. She booked a table with them, but when we arrived (on a monday morning mind you) we were seated at the bar. This is weird since, we BOOKED a table. It was very uncomfortable too, being in the corner and all. Not to mentioned at some point it was full so the woman sort of came and moved my belongings to accommodate more people.
We got starters and mains. The starters (smoked ricotta and the toast with pate) were average at best. I've tasted ricotta in Sicily so I imagine I have a fairly good idea how it should taste. This smoked ricotta tasted like really plain butter/cheese/cream thingy. the pate, to be fair might be an issue of personal taste: but it was weird in taste.
My friends got their pastas, which were really average (or below average). Even though they were simple pasta dishes. I got the chicken with lemon and I admit that THAT is the reason this place is even getting 2 stars.
The chicken was phenomenal. So my guess is that their mains and quite good. BUT dont get pastas or ricotta or anything.. well... fast food italian. And you should be good.
While the chicken was amazing, not sure I am going back to this place for a plate of overpriced chicken breast.
Bocca Di Lupo has been one of London's culinary hotspots this year, garnering rave reviews everywhere from Time Out to august critics such as Giles Coren. I have been determined to eat here before the year is out and I finally found myself in the West End on Saturday with a spare dinner slot to fill.
I wandered down to the restaurant, which, just in case you weren't aware, is down one of the slightly seedier streets of Soho. However, you're marvellously transported to the hustle and bustle of an Italian trattoria once you step in through the door.
There is an area with tables at the back of the restaurant but your eyes and ears are immediately drawn to the large open plan kitchen with bar seating. That's the engine and the beating heart of the restaurant.
I asked if I could book a place for one for dinner and the wonderful maitre d' Ernest kindly made the arrangements. When I returned later, perhaps sensing my interest in food, he had saved me what he called the best seat in the house - down the business end of the bar, where the plating up is done. He took the time to explain about the concept of the menu and to introduce Jacob Kennedy, one of the co-owners and driving force in the kitchen.
I was mesmerised throughout my visit, just watching Chef Kennedy orchestrate his team of 4 chefs as they put out plate after plate of rustic but ever so appetising looking food. No fuss, no drama, no screaming. Just chefs obviously working hard but very co-ordinated. This seamlessly blended with front of house and the great server who was working the pass, calling out orders and cleaning plates.
The menu lists which region the dishes come from, with a few marked BDL, which Ernest explained meant that it had been dreamt up at the restaurant. Let me tell you that this Italian menu bears absolutely no resemblance to any food you will see on any of the faceless and endlessly boringly menus you find in the thousands of high street Italians restaurants you find on our streets.
There is everything from Sicilian street food to unusual ingredients such as lung and spleen through to simple deep fried buffalo mozzarella bocconcini. Everything is made fresh on-site and it shows in the flavours. You know it's a good menu when you want to order all the dishes!
As I perused the menu, a plate of top class olives and bread with olive oil arrived to whet the appetite. Some freshly squeezed orange juice was sweet and refreshing.
For those of you who have read my other reviews, you know that I can't resist odd ingredients and I got the fritto misto alla Piedmontese - a selection of deep fried lamb chops, sweetbreads, brain, apple slices and sage leaves. These were perfectly complemented with a generous pouring of aged balsamic vinegar, the sweet and tartness blending with the creamy textures of the sweetbread and brain.
I was impressed by my server Richard, when he advised me to wait til I had finished my fritto misto before deciding on other dishes. I had thought about getting the deep fried chard but he advised that it might be too much fried food.
I'm glad for his advice and I went for the intriguing sounding spaghetti and mullet bottarga frittata, a street food dish from Campania. The flavours were lovely and strong from the bottarga, which I was looking forward to. However, it was a very generous portion and my eyes had proven bigger than my stomach!
I was able to have a few words with Chef Kennedy and I was astounded to find out that this is his first restaurant venture. I wish him and all the brigade all the best and I'm looking forward already to returning and trying more of the menu.
Deserving no less than five stars, Bocca di Lupo impressed me with the ultimate dining experience. I stumbled upon it whilst reading a Giles Coren review from 2009, when the restaurant was still pretty new on the scene. Coren was unambiguously thrilled with the place, stating that "Bocca di Lupo is just bloody marvellous" - off to a good start one might say. So I was mightily pleased to find the place full to the brim when I turned up for my reservation, two years on and people clearly still think the place is "bloody marvellous".
We arrived in high spirits, having come straight down the road from the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Having rocked up half an hour early we could not be seated straight away, but the manager, Ernest, was genuinely apologetic for this. Sincerity is not a commonly found quality in eateries, but Ernest managed to be convincing and delightfully charming at the same time. A winning combination.
In lieu of our table we were immediately offered Bellinis, which seemed to be the perfect suggestion, no other beverage seemed appropriate. However the full bar would have been more than able to cater to our whims, had we not been thus inclined. So with Bellinis deliciously in hand, our spirits continued to rise as we were powerless against the cheerful atmosphere. Indeed, it was horrendously busy, though not in the way that makes you impatient or frustrated, but rather in the sense that you're part of something exciting. Which you are.
Admittedly we were not seated until an hour later...though this was not through fault of the restaurant, as a couple of large bookings had arrived late. Besides, we'd been having such a swell time anyway, and the staff had been so kind to us, that it really didn't seem like a problem.
The menu at Bocca di Lupo is very exciting indeed. On the front "BLOODS ARE BACK!" announces the return to season of blood oranges, a key feature in several of the dishes. However what is perhaps most intriguing is the design of the menu itself, which totally ignores the conventional 'Starters, Mains & Sides' format. Instead most dishes are available in either small or large portions, so the choice is up to you whether you wish for a starter and main course, or if you prefer a more tapas-style orientated meal.
What interests me further is that the menu also tells you what region of Italy the dish is from. For example 'nettle pappardelle with wild boar ragù' hails from Toscana - who knew?!
Our meal comprised the following:
Shaved radish, celeriac & pecorino salad with pomegranates and truffle oil.
Mozzarella bocconcini (fried balls of mozzarella, basically).
Nettle & borage pansotti with walnut sauce.
Slow roast duck & Jerusalem artichokes.
Blood orange with red onion and oregano.
Grilled treviso with balsamic vinegar.
I can 100% vouch for the sheer sensory delight of all of these dishes. Simply put: they looked great, smelled fantastic and tasted even better. If I had to choose a favourite, perhaps I would say the salad. On paper it appears to be such a mish-mash of flavours, but golly is it successful, and the truffle oil is just something else.
Despite being full and wholly satisfied already, the dessert menu enticed our stomachs to give in for more. After serious debate we risked the Sanguinaccio aka 'sweet pâté of pig's blood & chocolate'. Did you say pig's blood? Really? In a dessert? Yes! And what's more, it's fabulous. No seriously, it is. Almost like a luxurious chocolate mousse. And to accompany the Sanguinaccio we selected Lingotto, a cow's cheese described as 'soft and voluptuous' - now you can't really resist that description, can you?
To round off the meal there is a lovely selection of sweetened coffees, and I was particularly taken with the Caffè alla nocciola - coffee with egg yolks & hazelnut. Mmmmm, delightful. But despite being the only two customers left in restaurant, our evening was not to end there: after settling the bill, Ernest approached us with two complementary glasses of dessert wine. Now, I'm not normally a fan of dessert wines, but this was sweet, obviously, yet also light and fresh at the same time, perfect!
Usually by this point, staff are doing everything they can to hurry you on your way (it's already gone 1am) but instead, we had the manager taking the time to thank us for being so patient at the beginning of the night, and chatting to us quite leisurely about wines, food, and the preparation of some of the dishes. Honestly, it was charming, and it makes such a difference to the whole dining experience if you are treated properly. I feel I should also mention that is wasn't just a one-man act either, and the rest of the staff were wonderful too, very keen to help.
So there you have it. My most enjoyable dining experience to date. I am but young, so take it with a pinch of salt of you must, though it seems my enthusiasm is shared by many so I might not be too far off the mark with this one...
living in London I have missed the restaurant scene that i was used to in San Francisco. Walking into Bocca Di Lupo felt like i discovered a bit of Home.
effortlessly cool. Intensely passionate. incredibly knowledgeable. Relaxed and cosy, while still feeling special. everyone who worked there felt like the *wanted* to be there. that this was their one true love and they adored every bit of it.
ive been twice now and im still in love.
You walk in with the Bar and the (open) Kitchen to your right where you can sit and eat/watch the chefs in action. In the back of the restaurant there is the dining room with small tables aranged snuggly, but not so close that you feel like youre sitting in someone elses laps, as it is with some places. Service runs fairly quickly, but it doesn't feel rushed. The service team was super friendly and enthusiantic about their jobs and obviously loved food. When we had quiestions, if they didn't know the answer, they were interested themselves to find out, not just because it was their 'job' to know.
Yes its all a little overpriced.
But you know what? If paying a little extra to have an experience that I will remember for years is what it takes, then bring it on.
Service, decore/feel, food, drinks (try the watermelon&basil martini), everything = perfect.
It was so good I want to cry. That would be tears of happiness that I finally been to the place where the best sorbet of London is originating from, and happiness that it is in my city and I can go there regularly.
My major advice - sit at the bar. You want to see your food being prepared - actually my friend and I were considering having steak as dessert - it just was staring at us from the grill.... and giving all the seductive aroma...and looking all gorgeous and juicy... Well, we went for chocolate marzipan ball instead and..and...it was amazing.
True, prices are high. But give me a break - if you want good food and great setting you'll pay for it. Do save it for something just a little bit special.
I'm not a pasta person. I don't like carbs but I couldn't help stealing some from my friend's plate: trofie with ink - amazing. I can't explain what ink tastes like - you've got to try it for yourself!
I went for monkfish for main and although it was good I was expecting slightly more. Dipped it in the olive oil - and it made the trick of adding just a little bit of fragrance to it. I loved the texture though.
For starters we went for the fish carpaccio (oh dear it was tender and fresh!) and prawn & squid in polenta - these were great too. I mean - we ate prawns with the shells tasting the sea - it was that fresh. Squid was made to perfection too. I never had a fried in polenta lemon - but it tasted stubbly sweet and just a little bit of sour - loved it.
If you go there - I strongly recommend going with (a) friend(s) and ordering a bunch of small plates and try different things at the same time. Don't be fooled by the size of their pasta dishes - they look small, but they are filling!
Wine list is very comprehensive, and as expected - all Italian - so much sweeter and fruitier than their French counterparts!
I finally got round to going here the other week and, fair play, the food was fantastic. It's a, sort of, Italian tapas place in the heart of Soho. I can't say anything I tasted here was truly mind blowing, it was just very high quality Italian food.
The service was good, but not exceptional, it felt like there was a lack of communication at some points between the wait staff. For example,
- our table was cleared after our starters and we were given dessert menus.
- no-one came to explain to us about the menu (which may need some explaining because portion sizes vary widely) and how many we'd need to order each but to be fair, when we asked the waiter did his best to explain (more by facial expressions when we ordered something he didn't agree with).
- when it came to paying our bill the card reader didn't work. The waiter left to tell the manager and nobody came back for about 10 minutes to tell us that actually none of the readers were working and the manager was sorting it out. Why it had to take 10 mins to tell us that as I sit holding my card I'm not sure? After almost 20 mins wait, I think a complimentary drink would have been appreciated but then we were already edging perilously close to our 2 hour deadline.
None of this really spoilt our enjoyment of the evening though and I'd like to go again but next time I want to sit at the bar...
This is a quick and dirty review for now as I promised Bocca Di Lupo the spot for my 300th review. The food was delicious (mostly...will get on that later), the atmosphere perfect for a large group of friends, and the service impeccable. Overall, go here to enjoy youself!
The key points that stood out were i) the friendliness of the wait staff and the skill our waiter exhibited in picking up non-verbal cues, ii) the delicious bread on arrival (it's a key selling point), iii) the confusing menu where you really order in unit amounts, iv) the ability to literally order almost everything on the menu when you have a group of 8.
Extra points for putting a candle on some profiteroles and singing Happy Birthday to the Tracy L, the birthday girl. Also points for not charging us for the one bad dish (some sort of baked artichoke that was more ash than artichoke) after I mentioned in passing to the waiter I was disappointed by it.
More indepth analysis to come once I get my copy of the menu in front of me!
This place is absolutely exceptional. The reviewer who suggested that this place feels like it could be in San Francisco is absolutely right - it has exactly the feel of a place there called Flour + Water and it's just as good.
I love a meal at a counter where you can watch the chefs and bar staff at work. I also love a restaurant where looking over the menu is almost as much fun as the meal itself.
We had a widgeon from the many available roasts - it was a small duck, rich and gamey. And essentially it was cooked to perfection. I love the fact that they let you know how long you'll have to wait, and it makes for a leisurely evening easily filled with fried artichoke and sweetbreads.
Great wine list. Friendly and attentive service. The only slightly disappointing bit was the stuffed pasta, but I am happy to overlook that as I am still contentedly remembering that amazing widgeon...
One of my favourite places to eat in London, let alone Soho. I've always sat at the bar, right in front of the kitchen at the chef's counter (I love seeing how my food is being made), and am amazed at how efficient this place is.
The menu is constantly changing, but is always packed full of traditional Italian dishes. I still couldn't be tempted into trying any of the offal, but I know it's very good from the speed at which I've watched someone eat it!
My favourite dishes here are the seasonal risottos, which change every so often, and are just to die for. Very, very good dessert as well, with exceptional espresso.
Good service without being overbearing, and a truly comfortable environment that makes you want to stay all afternoon.
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