"Not easy to find - but worth the effort"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
I have to say that this place isn’t easy to find (although there is a gelato called Gelupo – part of the same family business - right opposite) – tucked down the rather dubious and somewhat smelly Archer Street behind Shaftesbury Avenue.
But once through the doors you know you are in a good place – the staff are super friendly, it has pristine white floors and an entirely open kitchen so you can see exactly what is going on (I have to say that it was also lovely that during the meal we caught wafts of aromas of some of the amazing things that there were cooking).
Towards the back is the seating area – with no nonsense sturdy and scrubbed wooden tables in a modern environment. There are huge colourful pictures on the walls – one a rather distressing hanging pig! There is a dominant central ceiling round light that is almost a closed chandelier. Some mellow jazz piano music played in the background.
While waiting for my companion, I have a chance to scan the other diners – there are a few of the usual creative Soho types, a couple of businessmen in suits, some tourists and smartly dressed groups. In fact, it was pretty eclectic – bar the couples which you wouldn’t expect to find at lunchtime. I suspect it’s quite a romantic venue in the evening.
The menu takes a little getting used to – as it doesn’t stick to the usual starters, mains and desserts approach. It has sections on raw and cured, fried, for the table to share, pasta, boiled and stews, grilled and roast, mixed grilled seafood and sides. Each dish is available in a small or large portion and the Italian region of origin is noted.
There’s also a one course/pre-theatre menu which offers the tempting “Silence of the Calves” option (liver with fava beans and a glass of chianti - £21.50). The same sense of humour as our waiting staff.
My companion started with the rabbit tonnato (cold rabbit salad with tuna sauce, radishes, broad beans and capers) which he declared extremely good although he wondered whether there was a tad too much oil. I also opted for a salad – cheese with broad beans, rocket, lemon zest and mint.. The cheese was light and milky white and in small pieces not dissimilar to cottage cheese in appearance – but it was creamy and cool on the tongue. The beans and rocket were beautifully supported by the zing of the lemon and mint. It was a perfect fresh and light starter for a hot day. Both were presented on exquisite small rectangular plates – very apt for such modern surroundings.
I urged my friend, who was recounting amazing tales of his recent trip on the Trans-Siberian railway, to try the fossil fish – which is sea bass grilled in salt. I have had this dish at other restaurants and enjoyed it very much. He was shown the fish encased in its sea salt before it was sliced open and presented to him. He liked this a lot – commenting on the occasional bursts of salt through the delicate fish. The recommended side - sauteed friggitelli peppers – reminded us both of Padron Peppers from the many tapas meals we have had.
My finferli (girolle mushrooms) and parmesan risotto was delightful – you would expect the rice to be creamy (it was), the mushrooms to be firm (they were) but the parmesan was almost like a crust which added a lovely texture.
Sadly, we weren’t able to have a drinking lunch so the considerable wine list went unexamined. But my glass of Pietrariccia Surani (Fiano, Puglia, 2010 - £6.80) was delicious.
Two courses each and just one glass of wine as well as some sparkling water and the meal (including the service charge) came to £79.09 – which, bearing in mind its location, the faultless service and creative regional Italian menu - seemed pretty good.
The web site says: Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo opened Bocca di Lupo in November 2008. It has since received various awards and accolades for its stripped-down, honest regional Italian cuisine. Despite the buzzy feel and glamourous surroundings, it is a family business, a small and humble trattoria at heart. It specialises in the obscure and the delicious highlights of food and wine from all across Italy's twenty regions. There’s also a cookbook available if you are tempted to try some of the recipes at home.
KimT reviewed Bocca Di Lupo on Thu 26 Jul 2012