Like many Mayfair haunts, high-end Italian restaurant Bocconcino serves up a slice of wow-factor long before you sit at your table. Guests enter via a mezzanine level and are greeted by smiling hosts, before descending a spiral, mirrored staircase to the dining room - a feat we wouldn't fancy attempting after a few cocktails.
While the glamorous mix of high ceilings, attractive light fixtures and marble surfaces are sure reminders you are in W1, the comforting dishes and top-quality, freshly-made pasta here are almost enough to convince us we have been transported to a quaint Italian trattoria.
We kicked off with a plate of beef carpaccio enlivened by a sharp mustard dressing, and a creamy, oozing sphere of burrata topped with herby pesto. Our pasta course was a tale of two extremes - homely, rich and tender wild boar ragu with tagliatelle contrasted against the unabashed luxury of Scottish lobster linguine, paired with cherry tomatoes that burst in the mouth.
For mains, a herb-crusted rack of lamb was robust and gamey and paired perfectly with a side order of thick-cut chips topped with perfumed, nutty black truffle. Rounding things off was a knock-out dessert in the form of an XL cannolo, wrapped in a crisp fried pastry shell and stuffed with a sugary sweet filling that boasted citrusy notes of orange zest.
Don’t miss Bocconcino’s list of fun house cocktails - we were fans of the refreshingly sweet Red Mexican (Tequila, strawberry syrup, triple sec, lime) - while those looking to splash the cash can indulge with bottles of Italian wines and fizz that are priced north of the £1k mark (more affordable by-the-glass options are also available).
We found service, though always warm, was sometimes slow on our visit but overall Bocconcino impresses with its buzzy atmosphere and surprising versatility - it works for business dinners as much as it does date nights. It was reassuring to see the place full on our Tuesday evening visit and we hear the weekend brunches get pretty lively too.