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Russell Norman’s original Soho take on a Venetian bàcaro (a humble venue for simple food and drink) has spawned siblings and imitators across London, with this Georgian building on Chelsea’s Duke of York Square being the latest manifestation. The genre-defining mix of ‘rough edges’, brick walls and deliberately scuffed plaster, with brown-paper menus and glass tumblers atop worn tables are all here, illuminated by period sash windows opening on to a terrace. The restaurant provides food from breakfast to dinner, with Polpo signatures such as small plates of gooey arancini or chicken liver crostini followed by pork and fennel meatballs, pizzetta bianca or slices of flank steak. We expect this branch to be a solid choice for an alfresco drop of Italian wine or a Campari spritz on a warm day, but bear in mind that after 5pm, tables are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
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