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Bocca Di Lupo – 12 Archer Street, Soho, London
It’s extremely hard (and rare) to find a restaurant that ticks all the boxes. Not just in London, but anywhere. But when you do find that particular restaurant, your whole dining experience is something amazing.
I had just finished work and had arranged to meet Steve (for those who read last week’s review, it’s the same Steve. Yes, date number 2!) for dinner. I suggested we go to Bocca Di Lupo. I had always heard great things about this restaurant and have walked past it many a time, but have never actually gone in. The outside has this stunning bare brick work façade with 2 huge windows, which allow lots of light in (and lets passersby see what’s going on inside).
We were greeted by the receptionist who had an infectious smile. After walking through Soho in the pouring rain, that was exactly the type of meet and greet I was after. Straight away I felt relaxed and that I was a guest in someone’s home, rather than a restaurant. The restaurant itself had this great energy about it. It was busy, but not so busy you felt that everyone was rushing around you. To the right of the entrance you can sit at the kitchen bar and watch the chefs prepare your meal. Usually I’d be up for sitting there, but after what happened last week, I didn’t trust myself sitting on a bar stool. It would only be a matter of time before I drunkenly fell off it.
We sat down at our table and were introduced to our waitress, Polly. For me, a great restaurant isn’t just about the ambience and the food and the chef’s name. For me, what really makes a restaurant something special, are the people. The floor staff, the bar tenders, the receptionists. Polly is quite possibly the best waitress in London. There, I’ve said it. This young lady was personable, knowledgeable and most importantly, knew how to enjoy her job. Not only was she serving us in this manner, but all her tables were treated exactly the same. If only every restaurant could have a Polly (I think Steve had a little crush on her by the end of the night. I was not too pleased).
We ordered our water and went through the menu. Straight away we realised, this wasn’t just any old Italian restaurant we were in. We had stumbled in to a restaurant that actually cooked Italian food! No spag bol, no cabonara and no pizzas! The menu is made up of regional dishes and it really does have something for everyone. You can see a lot of thought and care has gone into this menu. Our waitress (Polly, in case you forgot) told us that the menu changes daily and sometimes twice a day, always ensuring that the dishes are fresh and in season. I’m in restaurant heaven! The menu is designed in a way so that you can either have a main dish to yourself or a few smaller dishes to share. With so much to try, we decided to order loads of delicious little bits.
This time round, I took charge of the evening. All Steve had to do was sit there and look pretty (he did that very well). I ordered us a bottle of the Prosecco Sur Lie. This is a nice, light Prosecco with hints of apple, apricots and a touch of biscotti. This was a perfect choice to go with all the different flavours we were about to indulge in.
To start with, we ordered the Buffalo Mozzarella Bocconcini, Stuffed Olives and Manzo di pozza (cured beef carpaccio). The bocconcini had been wrapped in breadcrumbs and deep fried, so that when you bit into it, you get this hot, delicious, gooey, milky cheese that still has a bit of substance in the middle. Now, be warned. These are bloody hot! I took a bite and burnt my mouth. Apparently it’s best to cut into them first. Where’s the fun in that?! The olives were also wrapped in breadcrumbs and fried, but they weren’t stuffed with any old nonsense. Oh no my friends. They were stuffed with finely minced veal and pork. My god! These were incredible! The saltiness of the olive seasons the meat as you bite into it. You would expect these 2 to be quite heavy, but they were actually pretty light. They’re more of a snack for the table rather than a starter though, so be warned. We only ordered them because we ordered so much. The beef carpaccio came out and was sublime. The beef was wafer thin and seemed to dissolve in the mouth. This was dressed with shavings of pecorino and rocket which leant a wonderful peppery, nuttiness to the dish.
After the excitement of the starters, the mains came out. Wild Boar Sausage, Pappardelle Ragu and Roast Delice Squash. What was fantastic about all these dishes, is that you get exactly what you order. There are no hidden ingredients thrown in and everything is explained (and cooked) beautifully. The wild boar sausage was rich and spicy. This was a proper sausage. No fatty, gritty bits in it, just meat and spices, perfectly blended and sculpted into a thick, juicy…sausage. The pappardelle was cooked to perfection. Slightly al dente, the way pasta should be. Not this over cooked dough that’s all mushy and floury. The ragu was seasoned incredibly well with a nice balance of tomato and wine. Nothing was lost in this dish. You could taste every aspect. What was also great, was the fact that the pasta wasn’t swimming in sauce. Finally, the squash. Now, usually a side dish isn’t so orgasmic, but this…well, you know that scene from When Harry Met Sally? Well that’s exactly what happened here. The squash wasn’t just roasted into this fluffy stick of amazingness, it was also glazed with balsamic and dressed with parmesan! I wanted to take it home.
After such a great meal, we thought it would be rude not to order dessert. Mini Bombe Calde with Chocolate Sauce and Homemade Jam and Sanguinaccio. The Mini Bombe were these homemade donuts that had been rolled around in sugar and cinnamon. If there was to ever be a dessert worth deserting someone for, this is that dessert. Even the accompanying sauces were incredible! The other dessert we had was more of a required taste. I only ordered it to be brave and show off a little. Sanguinaccio is a desert from Calabria in the south of Italy. It’s a sweet pate of pigs blood and chocolate. Now, before you all start writing that off, I must admit, at first I thought it must be a joke. But I can assure you that it wasn’t, and that the dish is actually pretty delicious. It had a velvety smooth texture and a slight resemblance to Guinness (that would be the blood). It was served with toast and actually worked really well. It’s a bit more adventurous than your usual desert, but it’s something I would strongly suggest you try at least once.
When writing reviews, I try to be as honest and truthful as possible. I critique on every aspect in the hope of helping to improve the restaurant, and more importantly, to help you guys make an informed decision on whether you’d like to go there or not. The only thing I would change about the experience would have to be Steve. It was that great, from start to finish, that the only thing I can critique on is the guy I’m dating (hopefully still dating by the time he reads this). The food, the ambience and décor were spot on. But what made it truly remarkable was the service. It is without a doubt, some of the best service I have ever experienced in my life. For that alone I will always recommend Bocca Di Lupo, and I will always request Polly to be my waitress.
Final bill, including service: £125.44