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Bella Cosa is the latest addition to London’s Italian restaurant scene. Located on the quayside of Canary Wharf, it boasts spectacular cityscape views. Executive Chef Kentaro Torii elevates the soul-warming food of Italy with his Japanese approach to produce his signature contemporary Italian dishes.
We visited on a weekend evening, welcomed into the ground floor, which hosts a central bar and chef’s island with seating spread around. This level, with its open-plan kitchen and stone pizza oven, is a hub for relaxed eating.
Upstairs focusses on a fine-dining experience from an à la carte menu. The interior is chic and modern, including a marble flooring and statement coloured glass lights.
The upstairs area also features two special areas reserved for private dining, the first known as the Wine Room, displaying the restaurant’s collection of 150 wines along one wall. The Artisan Beer Corner, the second private dining area, features a collection of the Italian craft beers on the menu.
Seated (upstairs), we started with the best bubbly export from Italy that doesn’t need any deliberation – prosecco of course. There is never a time that doesn’t warrant prosecco, and the Ferrari Maximum, Trentino-Alto Adige (£10 per glass) with its very fine bubbles, produce a smooth finish as an elegant start to the weekend.
After complimentary canapés (goats cheese, mini meatballs, savoury burger mouthfuls and a seafood option rustically presented on slate with a birch branch) and an amuse-bouche of potato mousse, mushroom jelly and pancetta, we were ready to dine.
To start we opted for the sea carpaccio, sliced from tuna, anchovy, octopus, mackerel and langoustine and also for a smooth, butternut squash soup served with ravioli, Girolle mushrooms and shavings of white truffle. The soup was warming and perfectly balanced with autumnal, earthy flavours.
Our second course was black cod in parma ham with baby cuttlefish in black ink served on white polenta, which we paired with a glass of 2014 Pieropan. This was, dare I say, one of the best cooked pieces of cod I have eaten, heated for just enough time to allow the succulent flakes of flesh to firm up, but still retain their moisture and flavour. The baby cuttlefish was a delightfully dark addition, and interestingly, the black ink, which is so often said to be ‘squid’ ink, is in fact collected from cuttlefish itself.
The tortellini with crab was our third course. Whilst the crab meat was no doubt fresh and the presentation impeccable, because of the mix of flavours (including tomato) we only got a generic fish flavour – somewhat disappointing. A greater focus on the crab as the centrepiece of this dish would be an improvement to show off this fresh ingredient.
As a fourth course, we ate the double-cooked pork belly, made by first boiling and then roasting the meat, served with wild mushrooms, sausage tortellini and Jerusalem artichoke purée. We heard mixed reviews on the pork, but overall this was a well-cooked, tender piece of meat that flaked away easily. This we paired with a 2008 Piccoli Amarone di Valpolicella red wine.
Dessert, whilst we would have also chosen the tiramisu (as equally compulsory at any occasion as prosecco), we opted for an interpretation of the classic cocktail Pina Colada, made with coconut panna cotta and fine slices of pineapple. This playful twist on a sweet treat was a smooth and refreshing indulgence to round off our fine dining meal.
Overall we felt that Kentaro’s Japanese rigour applied to traditional Italian home-cooked food elevated the dining experience to a level that has so far been lacking in London. With Bella Cosa’s fresh, seasonal produce and high percentage of Italian-imported products, it retains the authenticity you would expect from this proud culinary heritage. Combine this quality of food with the chic interior and unique views over the docklands from Canary Wharf to the O2, and this restaurant is set on a path to Michelin-star level.
Bella Cosa is open Monday to Sunday for lunch, dinner and aperitif gatherings. The restaurant is located on the South Quay of Canary Wharf, a couple of minutes walk from South Quay DLR Station, at Drewry House, Marsh Wall, London E14 9FJ.
To book, call 020 7132 1212 or visit bellacosarestaurant.com.