Harden's survey result
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“Discover what REAL Italian food is all about” at Jacob Kennedy and Victor Hugo’s “buzzing and exciting” venue, a short walk from Piccadilly Circus: its “inventive” tapas-style plates – an ever-changing selection “from the remotest corners of Italy” – are “unbelievably good” and backed up by a “gorgeous” wine list “full of regional gems”. Sitting it at the bar, “watching the skill and intensity of the chefs” is a favourite perch.
“Phenomenal” Italian tapas – “really unusual” dishes from all over the country, including lots of game and offal – help inspire mass adulation for Jacob Kennedy and Victor Hugo’s “wildly popular” venture, near Piccadilly Circus. It has a “wonderful”, “casual” atmosphere too – if an “incredibly noisy” one – with many reports tipping the bar-side perches as the best seats in the house. Desserts are “particularly original” too (or “skip pud, and go to Gelupo, their ‘sister’ ice cream shop opposite”). See also Vico.
“You’d be hard pressed to find better in Italy” – “refreshing” tapas-style dishes are “enthusiastically served” at this “exciting” backstreet spot, hidden away near Piccadilly Circus; it’s “always jammed”, and can get “too noisy” for some tastes.
“Inspired”, “regional” Italian tapas – “matched by no other Italian restaurant in London”, and served by “passionate” and “unpretentious” staff – win adulation for this “bustling” venture, tucked away near Piccadilly Circus; “get a counter seat to watch the brigade in action”.
Bocca Di Lupo Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Seating is quite cramped in the back area"
"One of our all time favourites! you can book a seat at the bar to watch the cooking or a more conventional table. But do book. Menu is all Italian as is the staff and the cooking changes seasonally with specials to make it right on the moment. Everything is cooked to order, some dishes come in 2 sizes; best to share a lot of dishes if you can. In Winter more meat than fish but need not be heavy. Deserts are great too, leave space. Staff are very helpful and all happy to discuss details."
"This restaurant stimulates the taste buds and senses. The busy atmosphere is addictive, enhanced by cooking at one end of the counter. The food is a constant delight, the service recommendations are top notch. My favourite restaurant anywhere."
"Wonderful small sharing plates starters, rudo and salumi, primi, mains and contorne. Everything freshly made with imaginative combinations of flavour and texture: sage leaves with anchovy, artichoke deep fried just like in Rome's Jewish quarter, farfalle with romanesco broccoli, achovy, cream and parmesan all in perfect balance, paccheri with gurnard, and magnificent slow braised ox cheek with chocolate and spices.The place has an unpretentious cafe feel and the price for the heart of the West End for food of this quality is bargain."
Bocca di Lupo W1
Near Piccadilly Circus, a versatile and attractive Italian restaurant that's one of the best openings of the year to-date; its ex-Moro team serves up unusual and accomplished Italian dishes, and the wine list is notable too.
Some restaurants - like Buddha Bar, or Bob Bob Ricard - burst onto the London stage after months of warm-up PR. It's always a struggle for the reality to match the build-up. Other restaurants - like Bocca di Lupo - sort of creep out when you're not looking. Unanticipated, their arrival seems all the more interesting.
Interesting, the location of this Soho newcomer is not. Despite being only a stone's throw from Piccadilly Circus, it's in a street so boring it looks like an alleyway that's grown too big for its boots. In such an unpromising setting, its smart exterior seems all the more chic.
The interior is also promising. A long, Carrara marble bar flanks the room providing separation from a shiny and bustling open kitchen. At the back, there's a more formal dining section, dominated by a huge, vaguely retro, circular light fitting. It's where we sat, but it's probably the part of the room which 'works' least well.
At lunch, they do an appealing short menu of 'one-dish meals' for £7-£11. Grandly, though, we went for the Ã la carte, which features dishes from across Italy labelled by region. Sampling is made easy by the fact that all plates come in a choice of small and large sizes. There is also a long, well-priced and intelligently constructed wine list.
Whoosh! The fireworks started to go off when our initial, quite brilliant dishes arrived. The first was a bone marrow, barolo and radiccio risotto. Boy was it good: meaty yet light; rich but fresh-tasting. The second was a pork and foie gras saugage with a buckwheat accompaniment. The sausage had a magnificently rustic, farmyardy quality, quite out of place in a trendy Soho gaff.
Best of the rest was the Fritto Romano, combining deftly fried artichoke and excellent veal sweetbreads. Least good, oddly, was the pasta - tortelli of ricota with burnt (by design!) walnut pesto - where the individual components of the dish resolutely refused to add anything to one another.
How could you refuse a pudding of pig's blood and chocolate paté? It may sound vile, but the reality was just an offbeat chocolate pot that was - all things considered - hard to separate from every other gooey chocolatey pudding you've ever had before. It was, though, served with more of their bread, which we've neglected to mention is terrific. Coffee to follow was a bit dull, but enlivened by little chocolate beans from a famous Roman café.
The team in the Kitchen - Jacob Kenedy and David Cook - were until recently at that perennial favourite, Moro. Their pedigree really shines through in this new venture which is one of the more significant debuts of the year-to-date.
12 Archer St, London, W1D 7BB
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Last orders: 11 pm, Sun 9.30 pm