Deciding to book dinner at Bocca di Lupo on the first Friday in January was both a good and bad idea. Starting with the bad, I will probably compare every restaurant I visit in 2012 to this delightful Italian, which will, in turn, annoy my friends and family. Moving onto the good, having tried to get a table for so long after reading countless glowing reviews and all the delicious recipes in Jacob Kennedy’s cookbook, my meal more than lived up to expectations.
We were not long sat in the busy, yet calm restaurant when our amicable waiter came over to explain that we could either get one ‘large’ plate each, or share a variety of ‘small’ plates. He also suggested we either go for a meaty or fishy meal, which was refreshing advice that other ‘small plate’ restaurants should adopt so you don’t end up with a mis-matched variety of food in front of you. Hearing this, The Boyfriend and I looked into each others eyes and knew straight away – we were going to go for the small plates so we could try more things from the menu, and the theme would be fish, because The Boyfriend is a gentleman and knows that’s my favourite.
So, when it came to our actual food choices we went for Sea Bream Carpaccio from Veneto, which not only looked beautiful, but melted in the mouth with a flavour so good it would have sufficed the rest of the meal. Well, that’s until the Spinach and Ricotta Malfatti from Piemonte arrived…
My picture doesn’t do justice (at all) to these delicious hand-rolled dumplings, which can only be described as a ‘taste explosion’ (one of The Boyfriend’s favourite phrases) due to their perfectly balanced mixture of fresh spinach and delicately creamy ricotta. Moving to Campania we also ordered Fried Squid, Prawns, Aubergine and Lemon from the Fritti section.
We were impressed by the perfectly light batter on these tasty morsels, and the fact you could eat the whole king prawn, top and tail, but fried food is fried food, so it wasn’t the most memorable thing we ate that night. Retrospectively, our fourth dish from Liguria was pretty similar to the third – Mixed Grilled Seafood (gamberetti rossi, squid and scallops).
Apologies again for the poor picture quality (a new camera is on my wish list), but the best thing about the grilled seafood was the squid, which lacked its typical toughness. Also, although gamberetti rossi is translated as ‘small red prawns’, they were definitely on the large side and very sweet.
Not wanting to ignore the sides, our final savoury order was the refreshing Cime di Rapa, a type of broccoli served in a typically Puglian way with garlic and chilli.
As he’s such an ice-cream lover, and half the desserts came from Bocca’s gelato bar Gelupo across the road, I gave our pudding decision to The Boyfriend. His choice of Lucky Dip Bonbons was the perfect sweet end to our meal as it gave us four little chocolate-coated scoops of gelato in mystery flavours (we had coconut, coffee, fresh mint and caramel).
Bocca di Lupo isn’t the cheapest restaurant – our bill came in at £99 with wine – but it is definitely worth a visit even if, like us, you have to wait for a special occasion.
Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB