BOCCA DI LUPO HAS HEART – AND LUNGS, AND KIDNEY IN ITS ‘CORATELLA’ – BUT SOME TECHNICAL ISSUES TOO
So to lunch at Bocca Di Lupo, the busy Italian Soho diner serving up plates of regional cooking from London-born Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo.
I’ve long been trying to get in here over the six years it’s been open, but evening walk-ins have failed dismally, such is its popularity.
However an interesting tale lies in how a table became available at last – and for five people no less. First off, I called in the morning and spoke to the male receptionist who said they had nothing.
But had I also emailed the reception manager from work. Perhaps it was because she saw the Great Pulteney Street address and wanted to keep locals happy, or maybe because of the back-story – I was eating with the family following an audition for my daughter at the Royal Ballet – she came back immediately. And with a table to boot. Hmmm…
The bustling professionalism of Bocca immediately impresses: the bar at the front where business folk perch before rushing back to create ever-longer spreadsheets. Or the regular tables are at the rear, a warm-coloured space with a good, chatty vibe. It does feel a little shut off and slightly dark, but a attentive US waitress coped with our desire for lots of small dishes and two young girls who shouted a lot!
A plate of buffalo mozzarella arrived with soft, billowing pillows of the white cheese, beautifully milky with a slight acidic tang. Not as good as buying from the roadside in Campania or Lazio of course, and my daughter didn’t like the grassy olive oil on top, but delicious for the adults who had a bonus dish!
Coratella, the traditional dish from Rome using lamb heart, liver, kidneys and lungs was served with artichokes & spring onions and was hearty but not heavy or sour – artichoke really is a fabulous combination with offal.
Ricotta ravioli with burnt walnut pesto was another punchy dish, but this wasn’t loose enough: the pasta cooking liquid had been over-reduced so that the pesto was slightly dry and the pasta not shown to its best effect.
But the highlight was jumping over to their ‘Gelupo’ bar across the road for high quality Italian-style ice cream. The kids loved the exceptionally smooth, light but softly creamy portions, and I tucked into a fabulous, rich, cool butterscotch with cone.
So 6 out of 10: the food wasn’t quite what I expected it would be from a chef who trained at Moro and Boulevard in San Francisco, but it has a great vibe, and the staff dealt exceptionally well with our loud, shouty table!