Bocca Di Lupo – Review (London Soho)

Bocca Di Lupo started trading in November 2008 as a family run regional Italian trattoria, Jakob Kenedy & Victor Hugo are the blokes in charge. Of recent times I have pointed people here via positive word of mouth, but it stifles me as to why I haven’t glutonized myself here previously, if that’s a word… The irony hey? Every time I’ve been here, there is an around the clock buzz from patrons who want to be fed as well as the chatter coming from the open kitchens. Orders are being hollered from the head chef to the other chefs – each one is time boxed. I simply couldn’t wait to dig into one of the many hand sourced ingredients from Italy when I arrived. I was so impressed I went back 3 times in quick succession, you might be able to tell from the pics!

There is a glorious granite bar a la Barrafina style, which gives you prime viewings of the kitchen and the myriad of dishes that are cooked to perfection right before your eyes.

My two other dinner dates and myself were lucky enough to score great seats by the corner of the bar, giving us champion views of what was being cooked and served. It was a two bird solution, as we got a true visual menu. The staff were equally happy telling us what everything was too as the dishes came out. Win, win, win!

Here is another view, but sat in the corner of the main dining area. It’s lit moodily here, but the ambience is bright, brisk and packed full of tables.

What I loved about the menu was that practically every dish was available in small plates costing under a tenner – if you want to go large just double the price, same goes for the wine, conversely by the glass or bottle. Very smart indeed. Check it out for yourself;

We kick off with the ‘Baccalà’ – home-salted pollack. The batter was light and crisp as one would expect, but it was way too salty for my palate. Sorry guys, it won’t be featuring in my future choices.

Although things improve dramatically when comes the braised octopus and peas. It’s damn good, the peas tender and sweet, the octopus meaty, succulent and incredibly satisfying.

Pork neck with honey & rosemary was such a delightful thing, arguably the best dish here for me. When I saw it on the menu, I had to have it. It was so juicy, smokey, tender and sweet, almost taking a liking to Chinese style ‘Char Siu in flavour’. What is there not to like? You have to order it!  

Ricotta ravioli with broad bean purée & pecorino was cooked so well, perfect pasta and filling (yum!). It left us all wanting for more and fighting over the last piece.

Curiosity got the better of me with this dish – it was flying off the counter at a ridiculous rate. After tasting it, I knew why. Tender and great flavour; Erbette – baby chard with garlic & chilli. 

This dish featured on the specials – Ox cheeks! In my opinion anything slow cooked in red wine, peppercorns and tomato is a revelation. It’s a real shame it didn’t feature again during my second visit – if any of the Bocca folk are reading, please start cooking it again!

For all you charcuterie fans out there, this is a must – two home-made Tuscan salumi; wild boar and buristo (blood & pistachio). The latter was my favourite – gorgeous!

The orecchiette with ‘nduja, that’s spicy sausage from Calabria to all you foodie civilians. It came with red onion, tomato & rocket. The flavours were just intense and immense!

Rabbit, pearl barley and basil orzotto – it just works. Rabbit never tasted so good!

Tagliolini with sea snail ragú, this disappeared faster than I could go back for a second helping. You definitely know you were eating something from the sea with the snail’s sweet-like clam texture. Faultless.

And what feast is complete without organ meat? Certainly not the one we’re having here so it’s ordered. Tripe with guanciale (unsmoked bacon prepared from pork jowl or cheeks) cooked with chilli & tomato. You definitely know you’re eating organ meat here, but it was made so well, the sauce was rich and the tripe just dissolved in your mouth. Amazing flavour is what we got.

For all you fish lovers out there – sea bream baked in salt. The flesh was fresh and sweet, a beautiful  fish indeed.

Swine lovers – here is your fix, roast suckling pig with fennel and bay, a side of grapes too? Of course sir, it will help cut through the gorgeous fat! Very gutsy and highly recommended.

We mercilessly, against our already filled to the hilt stomachs, ordered deserts. We cling to each other for dear life, yet there’s room in there… Still!

The first weapon of choice is the “sanguinaccio”, a sweet páte of pigs blood and chocolate. Decorated with nuts and candied fruit. Rich, earthy, moorish and not for the faint heart. It just worked, and provoked the taste buds to want to relish another bite of the unctuous spread, on warm, crisp bread. Veganites stay away, far away!

Le palle del nonn – deep-fried ricotta and chocolate aka ‘grandpa’s balls’. This pudding  was beautiful simplicity. As soon you broke into the crisp shell, the marriage of chocolate and cheese-ooze overwhelms you. Think gourmet deep fried Mars bar and you’re almost there.

Pastiera Napoletana – Sweet ricotta, wholegrain wheat & candied orange tart, ricotta-orange gelato. What a mouth full! This was the plain Jane of the bunch, pleasant enough, but if you’re in a conservative mood and fancy something sweet then this hits the spot.

Casata Siciliana – ricotta, orange & chocolate layered with sponge & mazipan. This was the  most decadent of the bunch, the real deal. I couldn’t stop going at it with my spoon like crazed sugar junkie ready for his next hit.

It’s worth mentioning that the meal would not be the same without the 3 musketeers you see here:

The verdict;

The Damage: Expect to pay 70-90 Pounds per head with wine if you’re in a gluttoness mood like my group.
The good: Italian style tapas at it’s finest, great ingredients, great wine, speedy service and knowledgeable waiting staff. If it’s 2-3 of you, book a seat on the marble bar and watch the masters at work.
The bad: Do I have to wait that long before my next visit?
Rating: 4/5
12 Archer Street London W1D 7BB
020 7734 2223

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