Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bocca di Lupo’

fried goodies: suppli (£2), bocconcini (£2.50), artichoke a la Giudia (£5), and in the background, a fried courgette flower (£4)

When I was at Bocca di Lupo a year ago, I had a lot of fun, but the service and food were a mixed bag.  I left thinking that while I wouldn’t object to going again, I also wasn’t dying to revisit.

However, not having been to Bocca di Lupo and being a lover of all things Italian, Jon has long wanted to go, and with the recent buzz around good-quality, low-to-mid-priced Italians  opening in London, the time seemed right to revisit BdL.  Which is how we found ourselves there for dinner last week.

First impressions were great.  Still the warm, exciting atmosphere that I recall from my last visit, and the flattering lighting never hurts, either.  The bar seats were packed with diners who appeared to be having a good time, and the few tables at the back of the room were also full.  Not too shabby for a Tuesday evening.

Jon and I started with assorted fried goodies, which you order by the piece.  Fried artichoke (carciofi alla giudia) was especially good, with a nutty crunch to the exterior, and a moist, buttery heart.  Fried courgette flower included a powerful kick of anchovy, which I love, and both snacks brought back memories of Rome, a definite bonus.  Suppli and fried bocconcini were fine, but the bland comforts of fried cheese inevitably paled in comparison to the flavorsome artichoke and courgette flower.

nettle and ricotta ravioli in a pansotti walnut sauce (£6)

orecchiette with tomato and spicy salami (£7)

Our pasta courses were both very good, though I slightly preferred the spicy sweetness of the orecchiette to the creamy nuttiness of the nettle-and-ricotta ravioli.  The walnut sauce on the ravioli was a bit too heavy given that pasta was just a “course” for us (i.e., there was still a meat course to follow).

foie gras sausage and fregola (£9)

Foie gras Italian sausage was a revelation.  Usually, I’m skeptical of any dish where foie gras is an ingredient – it usually turns out to be a waste of foie gras.  But here, the foie’s creamy, rich meatiness was matched perfectly with the crumbly, fennel-scented pork of the sausage.  Without the foie gras, the sausage would have been pretty lean and dry, in fact.  The coarse, slightly-nutty fregola absorbed and blended with the sausage’s intense flavor.  This is a dish I’ll be craving as the days get darker and colder.

We skipped dessert in order to walk across the street to BdL’s gelateria, Gelupo, which is a worth a visit in its own right

With a couple of sides priced at £5 and a £40 bottle of wine, our dinner for two totaled £98, which I thought was great value given the quality of our food.  If you skipped the wine, all this food for £30 a person would be almost a steal, really.  In fact, Bocca di Lupo is what nearby and much-loved Polpo could be if Polpo took reservations.  And had good lighting.  And a happenin’ bar.

I’m already looking forward to going back.  This time, it won’t take me a year.

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB; 0207 734 2223; closest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus.

Gelupo gelateria, 7 Archer Street, W1D 7AU (i.e., across the street from Bocca di Lupo); 0207 287 5555.  Open until 1 am on weekends!  And at the back of the gelateria, there’s a small grocery where you can buy foie gras sausage to cook at home.  What’s not to love?
Bocca di Lupo on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

cherries in ice water at Bocca di Lupo

cherries in ice water at Bocca di Lupo

Surely I’m the last one in the London food blog community to make it to Bocca di Lupo. But it’s not for lack of trying. I’d heard the place served mid-priced, high-quality Italian cooking. So *of course* I’d tried multiple times to get a booking. I was always negged, though. Clearly no mojo.

Finally, last Wednesday, my friends Shamini, Fabrizio dell Amore (seriously, that’s what he wants to be called) and I showed up without a booking and managed to snag seats at the Barrafina-like bar.

Even at 10 pm, the place was still packed, noisy and fun.

The service took a while to get going: we asked at least three times to have our order taken. But then things on the service front were all good from there. Everyone at Bocca di Lupo was responsive to feedback, and Shamini managed to charm a little back-and-forth with our server (you know the type of friend I’m talking about, don’t you?), so we ended the evening with at least three freebies thrown in. Nothing high-ticket, but gestures go a long way to making customers feel valued.

lamb prosciutto at Bocca di Lupo

lamb prosciutto at Bocca di Lupo

bocconcino at Bocca di Lupo

bocconcino at Bocca di Lupo

For starters, we had a lamb prosciutto, which, while a bit dry, was saved by the excellent accompanying pecorino. Fried mozzarella balls (bocconcini) were creamy and almost-sweet inside; lightly breaded and golden brown on the outside. Really, an outstanding example of its kind for £8, and the start of a trend: all fried foods that night at Bocca di Lupo were excellent.

Crudita di mare was also the start of a trend: that seafood was generally so-so value. The raw scallop was sweet, but creamy in a not-so fresh way, and it was too much money at £9.50 a portion.

grilled pork chop at Bocca di Lupo

grilled pork chop at Bocca di Lupo

Shamini’s quail (£16) was outstanding – tasting like the juicy little poultry it should be. Fabrizio’s pork chop was over-cooked and under-cooked in various places, and generally bland. I wouldn’t recommend it, though he did complain to the chef, who then gave him Freebie 1 of the evening, which was delish: a beautifully-crisped and grease-free fried pastry filled with more creamy cheese and served with a fluffy ball of burrata (understandably the cheese du jour). The accompanying paper-thin slices of spicy salami were icing on the cake.

stuffed tomatoes and sardines

stuffed tomatoes and sardines

My main of baked sardines and tomatoes could’ve been served hotter and crispier. And sardines were a bit overwhelmed by the breadcrumbs, which was sad. Overall, the dish was OK, so £14 seemed a bit much.

Because the spring pea starter we ordered was taking ages to prepare, the chef comped us Freebie 2 of the evening: a dish of buttery, thin-sliced, grilled courgettes, which you really can’t go wrong with, seeing as how butter + thinly-sliced anything = tastiness.

When the spring peas arrived, they were worth the wait. Sweet and firm. Not a mealy, flavorless one to be found. Totally worth the £7.50. I know. I’ve shelled peas from the farmer’s market enough times to know how time consuming it is to get a good yield!

torta caprese at Bocca di Lupo

torta caprese at Bocca di Lupo

By the time we reached desserts, Bocca di Lupo had run out of donuts (SAD). But our server recommended the torta caprese, which was a good choice. It tasted like a lemon pound cake layered with an almond chocolate cake, and the genius was having the tart citrus complement the nutty sweetness. Cool.

Despite my skepticism, though, the dessert of the evening was Fabrizio’s choice: cherries in ice water (pictured at top). I mocked him for ordering fruit in a bowl of ice. But this generous serving of deep burgundy cherries was outstanding. Firm, deeply sweet cherries served icy cold. A great value for £6.50.

pig's bloog and chocolate pudding

pig's bloog and chocolate pudding

Shamini, continuing to use her magical charm powers, convinced our server to offer Freebie 3 of the evening: the pigs’ blood and chocolate pudding. We each took a scoop to try it out. And you know, I can’t say I’m a fan. The chocolate was extra creamy, but it had that mineral tang that signals blood is in there. No thanks. The dried orange peel and pine nuts that had gone soft in the fridge didn’t help. Glad we tried it, but nothing I’d order again.

With a carafe of inexpensive wine, we paid £38 per person for an enormous, fun and generally-tasty meal. I can’t say I got super excited about many of the dishes there, though the fried foods and the puddings were especially strong suits. For the service and atmosphere alone, I’d go back. Overall, Bocca di Lupo deserves its popularity.

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB; 0207 734 2223; closest tube station: Piccadilly Circus
Bocca di Lupo on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »