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.