SquareMeal Review of Bocca di Lupo
More than 10 years down the line, readers still can’t enough of Bocca di Lupo’s buzzy “sense of fun”, its “outstanding” Italian regional food and its terrific list of all-Italian wines.
The bijou rear dining room is adorned with paintings by owner Jacob Kenedy’s mother Heidi Becker, and it crams in the tables – creating a slightly “chaotic”, “noisy” but thoroughly enjoyable vibe. Alternatively, pull up a stool at the long marble bar and “watch the action” as chefs beaver away in the open kitchen.
The menu may look pan-Italian, but this isn’t your stereotypical jaunt through the regions; instead, the kitchen takes delight in digging out really “authentic” and often obscure specialities, which are mostly served up as small plates. There’s bruschetta topped with slivers of lardo, honey and shaved walnut from Piedmont, plus various fritti romani (sage leaves filled with anchovy, for example) and – for the brave-hearted – an Apulian dish of exquisite tissue-soft tripe braised in a rich tomato sauce with borlotti beans and rosemary.
Other favourites include gutsy Italian sausage served with gnocchi, and proper Sicilian caponata – a sweet pile of sweated peppers, aubergines and celery soaked in sweet-sour agrodolce sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. For dessert, there’s gelati “to die for” (courtesy of Gelupo across the road), not to mention cannoli as good as you’d find on the streets of Palermo.
And to drink, pick from a cocktail list drenched in vermouth or native wines served by the carafe, all dispensed by charming Italian waiters who exude passion about their own region of Il Bel Paese.
About Bocca di Lupo
Opened over a decade ago, this Italian establishment continues to wow patrons with their honest, authentic representation of Italian cuisine in the heart of London. Located in buzzy Soho, this restaurant is superbly located in the mecca of foodies, and holds its own very well – having won many awards and accolades over the years.
The interior of the restaurant is modest for its well-known reputation, with a family-run atmosphere that exudes a great passion for service and good food. Dressed simply with an understated colour palette of muted greys and wood, the most dramatic feature of the room is stunning, round glass chandelier that disperses light around the low-key restaurant.
The menu claims to offer punters a taste of the twenty main dialects of Italian cuisine, and with a twice-daily changing menu according to season, Bocca fares well. While you cannot expect the same menu every time you go, you will notice that a location is attributed to each dish, so that punters can learn about the regional differences within Italian cuisine.
In true Italian style, the menu offers plenty of courses for punters to dine on for hours. To begin, the crudi and salumi (raw and cured) plates offers tuna tartare, Galician sea urchins, and confit tuna for patrons to whet their appetites with, while the fried section offers red prawns and squid with blood oranges slices. Swiftly moving on, the pasta selection is modest – as all the pastas are handmade – featuring a variety of shapes and sauces such as cime di rapa orecchiette and agnolotti dal plin. From the oven, you can order a pigeon and bread lasagne topped with truffle or a polenta with wild boar stracotto from the stewing pot section. The menu perpetually seems all-encompassing, as it changes from lunch to dinner, and you can be guaranteed authenticity with every bite. Plus the all-Italian wine lists truly seals the deal.