Jay Rayner likened its concept to an “Italian Ikea concession” while the Indy’s John Walsh compared a visit there to “wandering into a peculiar branch of McDonald’s”. Yep, Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo’s (of Bocca di Lupo fame) latest venture Vico got a bit of a rough ride when it opened in Cambridge Circus in August this year.
But being the forward-thinking restaurateurs that they are, Kenedy and Hugo didn’t just shrug and say: “Eh, good enough”. No, they courted public opinion, listened to see if customers agreed with the critics, and have changed their business model.
Reopening to the public on 17 December, Vico has undergone various cosmetic tweaks to the interior, which will now have conventional dining tables and chairs (whereas before there were benches and stools). There will be a fountain centrepiece, hand-crafted in Lapis-like terrazzo.
Front of house will change from counter to casual yet efficient waiter service, overseen by Victor Hugo.
The menu is newly focused on south-central Italy, charting the journey of the Appian Way, the Roman road that has linked Rome to Brindisi for thousands of years. A curated offering of wines, also focusing on these regions (Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia), will be served alongside Vico’s street foods, like Roman pizzas, Neapolitan pastas and Apulian vegetables. Neapolitan pastries and sundaes of Gelupo gelato make up the dessert menu.
Kenedy says that Vico was always intended as a concept that would evolve and that listening to customers’ constructive feedback has allowed them make changes they hope diners will approve.