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39 William IV Street
The brainchild of ex-Locanda Locatelli chef Louis Korovilas, Bancone is a pasta specialist – as becomes apparent even before you enter, thanks to the kitchen team hand-rolling dough in the front window. The theatrical element then continues inside, courtesy of an open kitchen and a dining counter (bag a place here for the best seats in the house).
Furnishings are fashionably neutral, featuring a grey colour scheme and tables topped with white marble. Cool, mostly Italian staff zip between these serving up plates of house-made pasta that fill the room with Mediterranean aromas. From the regularly changing menu, we’d recommend ordering three small plates to share plus a pasta dish each. Our helping of doughy, garlicky focaccia arrived drizzled with sweet-as-can-be honey; next, strips of smoky duck breast were paired with charred artichokes while three perfectly formed balls of deep-fried arancini concealed respectively fiery ’nduja, earthy mushroom, and sweet, melting Dolcelatte cheese.
Slow-cooked oxtail ragu is just one of the many sauces that can accompany your pasta (gluten-free options also available), but we were especially taken with the potato gnocchi: pillowy dumplings that were comforting, hearty and slathered in sage butter. Our other choice, pork ragu with pecorino and tagliatelle, wasn’t as spicy as promised, but still had a thrilling kick to it. Reasonably priced drinks include Prosecco and European wines by the glass, alongside Italian cocktails such as Negronis and Aperol Spritz. For dessert (most of which are also classically Italian), try the sticky, indulgent chocolate nemesis glazed with white balsamic.
The past year has seen an influx of pasta restaurants in the capital, but Bancone’s delicious food, buzzy atmosphere and fair pricing makes this Covent Garden newcomer somewhere worth parting with your dough.
Best in Covent Garden
Square Meal Silver Awards
Best Italian restaurants in London
39 William IV Street
Charing Cross Station 116m
Charing Cross Tube Station 157m
London Coliseum 42m
Duke of York's Theatre 89m
Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -10.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
We've been on a poor run in recent weeks. Not that we haven't eaten pretty well but the restaurants where we've eaten decently or better have been places we've eaten at and reviewed before. The new places have tended to disappoint. Well today all that changed. Everything we ate at Bancone was good, from starters to dessert. Service was smart and helpful, and it was good value too. So nothing to grumble about at all.
Bancone is a small restaurant very centrally situated a minute or two on the Covent Garden side of Trafalgar Square. It was pretty much full at lunch today and it's cosy, though not cramped. I'm not sure what it would be like as a party of 4 in a booth. It's the sort of place to call in for a meal on the way to the theatre . It isn't a place for a relaxed celebration for several people. It's comfortable, but it's not a place to impress someone with its opulence. The service is well paced and pleasant- but it isn't a place to sit for hours and indeed they expect their table back in 90 minutes- not a rush for the type of food they serve. So, in other words its a place where provided that what you want is what they're set up to deliver, there's no reason why you wouldn't emerge delighted, and indeed we did.
There's a few starters, a medium-sized list of pasta dishes including some Roman classics ( eg cacio e pepe) and some with a more unusual twist. Then there's a handful of desserts. Thats it. No regular (non pasta ) meat or fish mains. No soups, salads or zucchini fritti. From our experience today I'd put the pasta plates here about half way between a starter size and a main size. In other words there may be some people who think after a starter and a pasta dish, that they need another. Doesn't matter really- it won't cost much and it'll be along presently- and frankly its just as likely that you'll just fancy another or a share of another because you enjoyed the first one and you're downright curious about something else on the list. Small confession here- after my good pappardelle with oxtail ragu, I didn't feel I should leave without seeing how they did with cacio e pepe, which seems simple enough but is actually quite tough to get just right. No need to worry- it was fine.
We had a very gentle and pleasant Barbera in a 500ml carafe, a coffee each and a bill for £84, which would have been a fraction cheaper had I opted for dessert instead of my second pasta. We thought that was decent value for what was nicely presented, accurately cooked food. As I said at the outset, nothing at all to put us (or you) off, and its very convenient for the centre of town. We'll go again. Bancone is the third pasta specialist restaurant we've eaten at in the last few weeks ( did I mention that we like Italian food??? ) the others being Lina on Frith Street - which we also liked- & Burro e Salvia in Shoreditch. To my mind Bancone offers the best overall package of these.
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