Polpo’s Smithfield branch is a ‘near replica’ of Russell Norman’s original Venetian-style bácaro in Soho – and that’s a good thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it seems to be the thinking behind the trendy brick-and-tile interiors, the downstairs Negroni bar and hip ‘small plates’ menu scrawled on rough paper. The result is a ‘kooky’ hangout that’s always jammed and ‘great for a date’. Sharing is the way to go, which means you can give the menu a decent workout: start with ‘cicheti’ (small snacks) and an Aperol spritz before dipping into super-delicious cuttlefish and ink risotto, subtle rabbit and chicory tonnata salad or whole mozzarella with a heap of perfect broad beans. To finish, order the flourless orange cake or Nutella pizzette, plus another carafe of Italian wine (it’s that kind of place). You can book for lunch, but after 5pm it’s first come, first served.
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