‘It's loud and it's brash – but it's meant to be', approves one happy customer of this diminutive take on a Venetian bácaro. Closely packed tables and painstakingly distressed interiors (including much-emulated scrubbed-wood panelling, rusting ceiling tiles and exposed light bulbs) create a ‘humming' atmosphere, while the plain paper menu promises ‘incredible value' and ‘truly delicious' small plates – from cichetti nibbles such as piping-hot arancini balls to winsomely topped pizzette, indulgent risotto nero with gremolata and melt-in-the-mouth meatballs of various descriptions. Service is aloof but swiftly obliging, although it sometimes gets the balance wrong, and the policy of serving wine in tumblers is a persistent bugbear. Long queues are mitigated by the equally cool basement Campari Bar. With expansion into Smithfield and Covent Garden, Polpo has become an undeniably successful enterprise.
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