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Monday, 12 October 2009
Bocca di Lupo
Intrigued by all the hype surrounding Bocca di Lupo, I called up my dear Italian friend and foodie extraordinaire Tea (short for Teodora) for a meal at this very trendy establishment. Despite booking well in advance, we managed to get squeezed in for a 6pm sitting last Friday, and were reminded on arrival that our bit of counter should be vacated by 8pm, and no later.
Bocca di Lupo is simply and informally decorated, tucked in on Archer Street, W1, one of the seediest streets in Soho. It was a runner-up in the Best New Italian Restaurants category of Time Out’s 2010 Eating & Drinking Guide and had received rave reviews by fellow food bloggers World Foodie Guide and Londonelicious to name a few.
The menu is not overly long or complicated, and clearly describes the Italian regions from which each of the dishes originate. I also enjoyed the possibility of ordering various dishes to share as opposed to having my own main course.
We started the evening with “Buffalo Mozzarella Bocconcini” @ £2.50 each. As expected, these were very delicious and creamy.
This was followed by “Crescentini (fried bread) with Finocchiona, Speck & Squacquerone Cheese” @ £5.50 (small). This was ok, although neither of us could taste the fennel in the fried bread, and felt that the accompanying portions of speck and cheese were rather meagre.
The “Shaved Radish, Celeriac and Pecorino Salad with Pomegranates and Truffle Oil” £5.50 (small) was one of the highlights of the evening. The flavours and textures were diverse but came together nicely in the heavily scented truffle oil. I really enjoyed this dish and would certainly order it again.
We ordered two of their pasta dishes, “Tortellini with Cream and Nutmeg” @ £8.00 (small), and “Tagliatelle with Pigeon and Pork Ragu” @ £7.00 (small). They were both good although to my surprise, the vegetarian option was the better of the two. The simplicity of the tortellini was refreshing, with the flavours of cream, cheese and nutmeg completely unadulterated and delicious. The Pigeon and Pork Ragu was also good and rich.
The best dish of the evening was undoubtedly the “Sea Bream Baked in Salt” @ £16 (whole fish). The salty crust in which the fish was baked helped to season the flesh to perfection. It was reminiscent of Baccalá but without the chewiness and dense consistency of this salt-dried fish (cod). A true revelation.
To accompany the fish we ordered a portion of “Grilled Radicchio and Asiago Cheese” @ £6.50 (small). The radicchio had been seasoned with balsamic vinegar and tasted sweet and slightly charred with the melted Asiago cheese (reminiscent of parmesan). We did not think it was an outstanding dish.
For dessert, we ordered the “Rum Baba with Pineapple and Whipped Cream” @ £5.50 and the “Brioche “sandwich” of Hazelnut, Pistachio and Chestnut Gelati (ice cream)” @ £7.00. These were again fine, but rather unremarkable.
I do not know if our mixed experience at Bocca di Lupo was because of my unduly high expectations or possibly because of the impersonal but efficient service we received. The food was good but not outstanding. I would like to give Bocca di Lupo another try when some of the hype finally quietens down.
Verdict – Good Italian food at medium prices in Soho. Impersonal but efficient service. At £126.56 for four, Bocca di Lupo was relatively good value but hardly a bargain.