Browsing Tag

italian

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Boca di Lupo, Soho

November 8, 2016
Boca di Lupo, Soho

Considering that Italian food is my favourite cuisine and I spend most of my time eating in Soho, it’s a bit of a miracle that I had never been to Boca di Lupo until last week.

London has some wonderful Italian restaurants; from ‘swanky’ Zafferano, to South Ken favourite La Famiglia, to the more relaxed but no less excellent Trullo and Padella.  But Buco di Lupo is a name I hear regularly, constantly, and it’s always being praised.

Boca di Lupo, Soho

Book to sit at the kitchen bar, where all the action is.  The food is excellent.  Simple, no messing about, wonderful Italian food.  My favourite was the potato gnocchi with sausage.  While gnocchi is usually a stodgy, heavy dish, this was light, delicate and full of flavour. The pumpkin risotto was good too, but didn’t stand out as much for me.

Boca di Lupo, Soho

We ordered the Tagliata to share for the main course.  I’m glad we shared because it is truly massive (and beautifully cooked).  The rocket and parmesan are the perfect accompaniment, and we ordered a tomato salad which worked very well too.

We also enjoyed their wine.  Quite a lot of wine, as a matter of fact, from different regions in Italy (they have an excellent, if expensive, Italian wine list).  My favourite was the Barbera, but, at £17 per glass, it’s not automatically your go-to wine.  The Sangiovese was good too, and I can’t remember what else we drank because things got a bit blurry…

Boca di Lupo, Soho

In Soho, where you are spoilt for choice of restaurants, Buco di Lupo stands out.  The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the food superb, the setting beautiful, warm and cosy.  Next time my father’s in town, I’m taking him there.  And that’s got to be a good sign.

Buco di Lupo

12 Archer St, Soho,

London W1D 7BB

 

Blog, Bologna, Italy

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna – EAT

May 22, 2016
Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna

Only in Italy will you find a place like this. Dinner here is not like a normal dinner; it is a unique and memorable experience, for most people will be one of the many highlights of Bologna.

It’s probably fair to say this is not for everyone. If you like being in control of your evening, when and what you eat and if you prefer to be left alone to enjoy your dinner, then you may not like Drogheria della Rossa. Having said that, I’m a bit of a control freak, yet totally loved it.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
The owner is very much present throughout the evening, getting steadily more merry as the evening proceeds.  You’re warmly welcomed and shown to your table, in a small, cosy, eccentric space, which used to be an old pharmacy.  There is bric a brac everywhere, and a rose on every table. You’re instantly served a glass of prosecco and swiftly afterwards your aperitivo arrives. After half an hour we still hadn’t seen a menu, despite asking for it.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
Eventually the wine list arrived and we ordered a wonderful Barbera D’Asti, so smooth and easy to drink. Then the owner showed up and listed the pasta options.  Tortellini with courgette flowers, ravioli with aubergine filling, tagliatelle with the famous Ragu. We ordered all of them and were delighted – once it eventually arrived.  Instead of a ‘secondi platti’ we ordered dessert.  I had a typical cake from Bologna, with chocolate and nuts. Rob had an incredible chocolate flan.  Rob’s father had an orange semi Freddo and his mother strawberries in the most incredible cream.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna
At this point the owner was back and had grabbed a chair to chat with us. Noting our wine was finished he promptly ordered another bottle of Barbera – on the house.

Drogheria della Rossa, BolognaDrogheria della Rossa, BolognaDrogheria della Rossa, Bologna
It was a very merry evening, with fantastic food and a lovely atmosphere. The owner transforms the restaurant into one big dinner party, whereby the guests end up meeting and interacting with each other.

When we left we were presented with a rose each from the charming owner, something which is apparently quite common, yet he absolutely had the ability to make you feel very special as guests. An absolute must go.

Drogheria della Rossa

Via Cartoleria, 10, 40124 Bologna

 

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Padella, Borough Market

April 18, 2016
Padella, Borough Market

Pasta.  You just can’t go wrong.  Especially when it’s home (and lovingly) made by Tim and Jordan, from Trullo (in Highbury) fame.  They had always wanted to open a pasta bar, and have now finally done so, right by London Bridge, on the edge of Borough Market.

Padella, Borough Market

Their soft launch weekend was a few weeks ago, so hundreds queued for hours to enjoy 50% off their pasta dishes.  But the prices are so low there’s no need to feel like you missed out.  I can’t think of a restaurant that I’ve been to in years that is as affordable (and quick) as Padella is.   Pasta dishes range from a fiver to just under a tenner, which is the Pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu.  The antipasti is all under £5, and if you’re starving and craving carbs I’d highly recommend their sourdough bread with delicious olive oil (you can even upgrade to the really fancy stuff).  And perhaps some of their burrata.

Padella, Borough Market

My friend Amber and I were both instantly drawn to the Tagliatelle with Italian fennel sausage ragu, but decided to share two pasta dishes so we could try more of the menu.  So we also went for the Ravioli of ricotta with sage butter.  Both were wonderful and completely moorish.  Licking the plate was sadly not an option but had I been in the safe confines of my own kitchen I would not have held back.

Padella, Borough MarketPadella, Borough MarketPadella, Borough Market

The wine menu is short and succinct.  The merlot a mere £3 a glass (but they are small).  Pudding is 100% worth going for, their flourless chocolate cake light and fluffy and a real winner.

Padella, Borough Market

The place itself seems tiny when you walk in – there is a kitchen bar and a few tables.  But downstairs offers a much larger space (but it’s still quite squashed).  I would probably recommend sitting at the kitchen bar upstairs as it’s fun watching the chefs work their magic. The interiors are cute, but downstairs could probably do with a little more atmosphere.

Padella is the perfect quick lunch or dinner option, affordable and filling, with unique sauces and produce.  I think it will remain as popular as it was during their soft launch, and not just because of their pricing.

Padella

6 Southwark Street
London
SE1 1TQ

Photo credit food: me

Photo credit interiors: Steve Joyce

 

Blog, Drink, Eat, London

Shot Espresso, Fulham Broadway

August 15, 2015
Shot Espresso, Fulham Broadway

When the very tiny Shot Espresso opened a few years ago, on the cobbled pedestrian and rather lovely Jerdan Place, I had a feeling it was going to do well.  It is the project of friends of, as they say, ‘Italian, Australian and English extraction’, with especially the Italian extraction being most pronounced in their venture.  It is effectively an Italian Deli, Cafe and Aperitif bar all rolled into one, with some Aussie touches.  Every morning I walked passed I could smell their freshly ground coffee, and see tempting heaps of buttery croissants through their large window.  Every evening when I walked home, they went from offering coffee to offering Aperol Spritzes.  Or wine.

Shot Espresso, FUlham Broadway

So, I tried both.  Their coffee really is good.  And their friendly service adds to Shot’s charm.  One evening I also tried their Aperol Spritz.  And a glass of wine. And perhaps a few more of them.  And loved this local and characterful place just off the very busy and characterless Fulham Broadway (having said that, if you want cocktails then 510 Below is brilliant too).

Shot Espresso, Fulham Broadway

Soon enough they cleverly put a few tables and chairs outside, and shortly the pavement was overflowing with post-work drinkers.  And best of all?  They offer Aperitivo.  Possibly the best deal ever.  If you pay an extra £3 for your first drink, you get to sample unlimited amounts of their homemade bites and selection of cheeses, hams and breads, plates of which are placed on the bar and which they keep topping up.  I don’t know anywhere in London where they are this generous.  No need for dinner, just come here for lots of drinks and delicious aperitivo and you’re sorted.

Shot Espresso, Fulham Broadway

Their well-deserved success meant that they procured another tiny joint, right opposite Shot – called Slice & Ice.  Offering, surprise surprise, homemade pizza (Roman-style) and ice cream.  Same sort of concept, same people, same overflowing pavement where on the busier Thursday and Friday nights the crowds from Shot and Ice & Slice simply merge together.

Ice & Slice, by Shot

Their newest venture is Bistro by Shot.  A larger, a little more formal cafe/bistro just off Parson’s Green.  I enjoyed my brunch here, but my preference will always be Shot Espresso.

Bistro by Shot, Parsons Green

For more Fulham ideas, check out Fulham Brunch places, St Clements and Hally’s & Little H.

Shot Espresso

11 Jerdan Pl

London SW6 1BE

Photos Shot Espresso’s own, or mine from Instagram.

Blog, Drink, London

Bar Termini, Soho

December 15, 2014

A small blog for a small place.  But definitely worth writing about, as it’s very cute and charming, even at 11am on a Saturday morning.

Why I liked it:

1)      It reminds me of Italy 

The main station in Rome is called Termini, and this very Italian establishment, clearly done up in a ‘railway bar’ style (I love the suitcases tucked away above the sofa), takes me straight back to Italy.  It also helped that one of the waiters was Italian.  And charming.

Bar Termini, Soho

Bar Termini, Soho

Bar Termini, Soho

2)      It serves excellent coffee.

In the morning it’s very much a café – serving (seriously strong) knock out coffees.  Their Bianco (Cappuccino) was punchy, but those who appreciate good coffee with appreciate this.   And if you fancy a quick Espresso shot by the bar, it’s only £1. They offer fresh pastries from L’Anima Café in Shoreditch to accompany the coffee.  Marco Arrigo is in charge of the coffee, and has collaborated with Tony Conigliaro to set this bar up (see point 3).

Bar Termini, Soho

Bar Termini, Soho

3)      AND cocktails. 

As per point 2, Marco Arrigo has joined up with Tony Conigliaro (from the Zetter Townhouse) to set up Bar Termini.  Tony is in charge of the cocktails and the ‘aperitivo’ side of the bar.  Cocktails start at a very reasonable £6.50 (the Negronis) and they start serving alcohol from 11am onwards, so ideal for these festive days when drinking throughout the day is perfectly acceptable.  If you feel like a nibble then they also serve Italian small plates (it is aperitivo after all); the mini panini is a bargain at £1 (it is really mini though).

Bar Termini, Soho 

4)      The service.

As this place is truly tiny (30 covers at most), it is all a rather intimate affair.  The baristas/cocktail shakers were professional and friendly.  They serve water upon arrival.  And I like their outfits.

Bar Termini, Soho

Get there early if you’re coming for aperitivo, though you can just hang out by the bar if it’s busy.   Or pop by for a coffee to wake you up.  Just don’t miss this little slice of Italy in the midst of bustling Soho.

Bar Termini

7 Old Compton Street
Soho

07860 945018

Photos my own and Bar Termini’s

Blog, Eat, London

Polpetto, Soho

May 22, 2014
Polpetto

I’ve been wanting to have dinner at Polpetto for quite some time now. It opened in 2010, around the same time as its sister restaurant Polpo, but then shut in May 2012 in order to find a larger space.  It evidently took a while to find the perfect new home for Polpetto, but they did a good job.

It reopened in February, which I had not realised. So when I walked past it recently, I got a bit overexcited.

Polpetto

WELCOME

 

I am a fan of Polpo – I love the small plate sharing concept and the ‘Bacaro style’ wholesome home cooked style of the food.  I actually thought Polpetto was even better.

The decor is simple, cosy and a little quirky (the tea cosies over the lamps above the bar for example). I loved the booths with more intimate tables too. It wasn’t as packed as I thought – probably because of its location on Berwick street, just off soho’s beaten track.

Polpetto

THE BAR & THE FUNNY LAMPS

 

Polpetto

ON PURPOSE: DINGY AROUND THE EDGES

We got a table at the back and were served instantly. A bottle of tap water and the menu.  The food is Venetian Italian, the choices far from your standard pizza and pasta.  The cook is the much lauded rising star Florence Knight and she did not disappoint.

Polpetto

VINO

This is what we ordered:

*Focaccia to start. Which funnily enough, despite it’s simple nature, was one of my favourite dishes. The olive oil they used is sublime and the bread so fresh and nicely grilled.  I just wanted to eat more and more.

Polpetto

FOCACCIA TO DIE FOR

 

*Beetroot, goats curd and sorrel – which we later realised was not a salad but a dip, so we ordered more focaccia ( which certainly wasn’t the end if the world).  The dip was delicious and fresh.

Polpetto

BEETROOT, GOATS CURD, SORREL

 

*Lamb: Almost like a tiny carpaccio – thinly sliced lamb with raisins and pea shoots. Good but not incredible.

Polpetto

A BLURRY LAMB, RAISINS & PEA SHOOTS

 

*Crab Linguini: Doesn’t look hugely appealing but it certainly was delicious. The crab was not overpowering and the pasta wasn’t stodgy.  It was light and zesty.  Perhaps could have done with a bit more seasoning.

Polpetto

CRAB LINGUINI

 

*Polenta: One of Italy’s national dishes, so I couldn’t not try it. Northern Italians lived on it for centuries and it is still a big part of their daily diet. This version was like porridge – very creamy and thick, it almost tasted like you were eating a yummy white sauce.  Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.

Polpetto

POLENTA

 

*Pudding – we couldn’t resist the Panna cotta.  The perfect consistency – not too much gelatine and not too much cream.  A good vanilla taste.  And the orange cognac goes well with it too. We shared it but I could easily have eaten it alone..

Polpetto

PANNA COTTA

 

We ordered a bottle of the house red (£18) which is the same as Polpo’s and easy to drink. It complements the dishes well.

Polpetto

THE BILL

 

Overall I was not disappointed, which says a lot as I was so looking forward to it.  There were no queues, the service was efficient and friendly and the portions generous.  I left feeling full but not uncomfortably so.

Next time I pass it I’m popping back in, even if it’s just to have more of that focaccia…

Polpetto

11 Berwick St, London W1F 0PL
020 7439 8627

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