Firstly, I’ve got to start by asking; Why on earth have I not been to Bocca di Lupo before?
Considering my overwhelming addiction to Italian food and wine, I was horrified at myself that I’d not been eating in there every day of my life so far.
Bocca di Lupo is something of a landmark now in London’s Soho. It can be a wee bit tricky to find; I ended up doing a couple of circuits through some of the seedier backstreets of Soho before I chanced upon it. Although there’s nothing at all seedy about this establishment when you find it.
Laid out much like cafe/diner you’d find in Italy there’s a long bar section in the front half of the restaurant (this is a favourite area to dine so you’ll have to book in advance as the 18 seats at the bar get booked up very quickly), and then more seating towards the back of the restaurant. My friend and I had booked seats at the bar thankfully. We did overhear a couple of prospective diners asking the maître d’ if they could get a bar seat when it was already fully booked, when they were offered seats in the back they moaned and groaned loudly about it. The maître d’ did his best to assure them that the food at the bar was exactly the same as served elsewhere, but they continued to huff and puff about not being able to sit at the bar.
The extensive menu at Bocca di Lupo pays homage to several different regions within Italy. Having travelled to several myself, I was delighted to see that they had selected some of my favourites from each region, and I was thrilled at the notion of being able to work my way through a food tour of my favourite country in one (albeit lengthy) sitting.
The focus for us was to try as many dishes as we could and simply dig in and share. We both made 3 selections each – you are able to choose between either small or large plates for all dishes meaning you can adapt to a tapas style if it suits, and then had a helping hand from the very charming sommelier, who managed to convince us to invest in a £50 bottle of Valpollicella. It was expensive yes, but it was a worthy investment as it was just delicious – he managed to answer our brief exactly.
Then the feasting began. Plate after plate of mouth-watering dishes arrived before us and we hungrily made light work of each. The veal and pork fried balls were a personal favourite (we ended up swiftly ordering a second batch of those!), as was the orecchiette and ‘nduja. I could have happily ordered a second portion of the orecchiette, were it not for the fact that my mouth was simply too full of the food I was already rapidly cramming into it, to be able to muster a coherent request for more.
Every single dish we ordered was utterly marvellous. I’m reluctant to believe that we were incredibly lucky in our choices, so I’m fairly confident almost all of the choices on the menu are going to be great.
We had a super time in Bocca di Lupo. It’s a great place to go in order to break bread with friends as if there’s two of you, you can sit and have a good old gossip at the bar whilst plates of food come and go around you. Alternatively, it’s a pretty good place to go on a date too. Although, if you’re like me and can’t resist ordering mountains of food which you then devour like a locust, you may want to avoid going there on a date early on in the relationship in case you scare off your date.
NB: Save a bit of room after your feast and pop directly across the road to their special gelateria, called Gelupo. Sadly, I didn’t leave enough room this time round, but on the flip side it gives me the perfect excuse to make a special trip back.