Bocca di Lupo – classy Italian in Soho W1

From cheesy balls to Grandpa’s balls, Bocca di Lupo specialises in obscure, regional Italian cuisine and the menu changes twice a day. 

The first tip is to book well in advance. For our reservation for two this Friday evening, the only availability (having booked a couple of weeks beforehand) was at 7.15pm, perched on high stools at the counter.

On arrival, I was disappointed to see how little space there is for those dining at the bar overlooking the open-plan kitchen, with high stools close together.

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Sea bream carpaccio starter @ £9.00

J had an amaretto sour cocktail @ £10 and I had a glass of Malvasia Nera ‘falo’ San Marzano @ £6.60 (see the red wine list here) while reading the enticing menu. Some dishes needed an explanation from our waiter, whose descriptions made them all the more exciting. It’s not a traditional Italian menu by any means – there’s definitely no pizza but there are plenty of appealing seafood options (if you like seafood). And the Italian region is given for each dish, to show where it’s a speciality.

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Deep fried mozzarella bocconcino balls

We chose six small plates to share, tapas or cicchetti style:

Sea bream carpaccio with orange + rosemary @ £9.00
Buffalo mozzarella bocconcini deep fried in bread crumbs @ £2.50 each (tip: get two each!)
Ricotta ravioli with wild garlic, served with butter + hazelnuts @ £8.00
Octopus, roast tomato, celery + basil salad @ £9.00
Caponata – aubergines, celery + tomato in agrodolce (sweet and sour sauce) @ £7.00
Orechiette di gran arso (burnt grain pasta) with cime di rapa (a variety of sprouting broccoli) + pecorino (hard sheep’s cheese) @ £7.50

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Ricotta + wild garlic ravioli 

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Octopus, roast tomato, celery + basil salad

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Caponata – aubergine, celery, tomato in agrodolce (sweet and sour sauce)

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Orechiette di gran arso with cime di rapa + pecorino 

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Tonight’s menu – 24 March 2017

All of these dishes were stunning, and I’d happily have all of them again next time. Being seated at the end of the bar next to the serving station, it was a busy thoroughfare. But on the plus side, it was easy to get service and great for eyeing up other dishes to try in the future (the roast wild turbot with lentils and salsa verde @ £24.00 served whole, got my attention).

From the dessert menu, we shared a bonet – chocolate, coffee, amaretti, caramel + rum pudding @ £7.00 (I’m not a huge chocolate fan and I don’t like coffee flavouring in food but this was gorgeous – you could really taste the amaretti almond bits in it; it’s perfect for sharing and not as sickly as it looks) and le palle del nonno or Grandpa’s balls – ricotta with chocolate, deep-fried in a light batter and sprinkled with icing sugar @ £7.00 (so good; take a closer look inside here).

We both had a 70 ml glass of Moscato d’asti Adriano sparkling dessert wine @ £3.50 – sweeter than I normally like, but it went really well with these desserts. So well in fact, I had another when J had a coffee…

Check out the dessert wine and grappa menu.

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l: Le palle del nonno ‘grandpa’s balls’ – deep-fried ricotta
r: Bonet
– chocolate, coffee, amaretti, caramel + rum pudding

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Moscato d’asti Adriano sparkling dessert wine – cosy, perched on the counter by the serving station

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Bar seats at the counter – it’s a small space if you’re sharing a few plates

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Open plan kitchen

The verdict: The quality of the food and drinks compensated for the discomfort of the tiny bar space. While this place isn’t cheap (our bill for two was £126.90 including service) you do get what you pay for – it’s more of a place to go for a treat than every day dining (you need to book well in advance anyway).

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: 12 Archer Street, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1D 7BB
– Nearest station: Piccadilly
– Website + menus: Bocca di Lupo website
– Bocca di Lupo photos: pics of Bocca di Lupo on flickr
– Location: Bocca di Lupo map

Bocca Di Lupo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Luciano’s wood-fired pizza deliveries in SE London

Anyone who likes a good stone-baked, Italian-style pizza will know how difficult it is, to get it delivered in the Lewisham area of South East London (sure, deliveries from the likes of Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc are plentiful – say no more).

But then I saw this instagram post by @SouthLondonClub about Luciano’s:
SouthLondonClub insta about Lucianos - for LardButty blog
Check out this short video-clip on Instagram

Being late home from work this evening, I decided to give them a try. I phoned and ordered two 12″ pizzas. I was unable to order salads and side veggies as apparently their kitchen where ‘other food’ is prepared was out of order. I was told that only the pizza kitchen was working. So I ordered a third pizza, totalling £30.00:

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Selection of pizzas from Luciano – vesuvio; fiorentina; create-your-own

  • Vesuvio – mozzarella, tomato, onion, salami + meatballs @ £10.50
  • Fiorentina – mozzarella, tomato, spinach, Grana Padano cheese, egg, black olives @ £8.50
  • Parma ham, mushroom + black olives @ £11.00

 

Delivery time was expected to be about 45 minutes but was closer to an hour and a half. By the time it arrived, it wasn’t hot. But it was nice enough.

Luciano’s delivers to a 2.5 mile radius around SE12, SE3, SE13. That’s these areas:

  • BR1 Bromley
  • SE10 Greenwich
  • SE12 Lee
  • SE13 Lewisham
  • SE14 New Cross
  • SE3 Kidbrooke
  • SE4 Brockley
  • SE6 Bellingham
  • SE9 Eltham

If you have a South London Club card, there’s currently a 10% discount off Luciano’s deliveries. And now, you can use Just Eat to order online.

The verdict: Finally, good wood-fired Italian-style pizza deliveries in South East London. It’s reasonably priced and long overdue. Hopefully, the teething troubles preventing ‘other food’ apart from pizza being available, and slow delivery will be overcome.

Alternative option: They don’t deliver, but the fabulous La Pizzeria Italiana will do take-away orders if you collect.

 

Luciano’s info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian, stone-baked pizza (deliveries)
– Address: 129-131 Burnt Ash Road, Lee, London
– Postcode: SE12 8RA
– Tel: 020 8297 0800 – or order online
– Website + menus: Luciano’s website
– Photos on flickr: Luciano photos on flickr

Luciano's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Polpo Italian tapas – Smithfield EC1M

Italian sharing plates in an informal, cosy setting – Smithfield, Farringdon branch

Part of the same restaurant group as Mishkin’s (Jewish style deli) with a similarly styled simple menu, Polpo serves Italian tapas. It’s all about sharing simple, good quality food and wine in a humble environment.

After meeting friends after work last night in a busy pub by Farringdon station (packed and we couldn’t hear ourselves talk) we decided to look for somewhere – less rammed and noisy – to eat. Polpo on Cowcross Street by Smithfield Market seemed calm and relaxing.

 

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Grilled focaccia @ £3.00

 

We ordered a bottle of cold, sparkling prosecco, which seemed wholly appropriate for a warm summer evening (although, I’ve no idea when it’s not appropriate to drink prosecco…) and a few plates to share between the four of us.

 

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Polpo menu – Italian ‘tapas’

 

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Fritto misto @ £9.00 – calamari (squid) rings, octopus, prawns

 

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Lamb meatballs @ 7.00

 

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Arancini (front) – stuffed rice balls coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, two balls @ £8.00
Crab linguine (back) @ £9.00

 

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Courgette salad @ £5.00

 

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Milan style breaded chicken @ £7.00

 

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Inside Polpo

 

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Outside Polpo – on Cowcross Street by Smithfield Market

 

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Nutella pizzetta @ £6.00

 

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Panna cotta @ £5.00

 

 

The verdict: No frills, no fuss. It’s all about simplicity and good food, with good service too. Our meal for four – including two bottles of prosecco and desserts or liquid desserts (liqueurs) came to £171 (about £43 a head).

 

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian tapas
– Address: 3 Cowcross Street, Smithfield, London
– Postcode: EC1M 6DR
– Nearest station: Farringdon, Barbican
– Website + menus: Polpo website
– Photos on flickr: Polpo images
– Location: Polpo map 
Polpo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Verdi’s Italian – Stepney Green E1

L and I were headed to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park this Friday night to watch Lift Festival’s Depart – an interactive circus performance through the underworld. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to hedge our bets and satisfy our stomachs with a good meal first.

And so we kicked off the weekend at nearby Verdi’s Italian restaurant (as it turned out, Depart was brilliant and utterly mesmerising – it’s returning in 2017 so do see it if you can).

Stepping into Verdi’s with its pristine white table cloths and nice layout was quite a contrast from the outside world of Stepney Green. So far so good.

 

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Plenty to smile about in Stepney Green, East London

 

 

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Inside Verdi’s – clean and pristine

 

Our welcoming and obliging waiter brought us a bottle of prosecco @ £21.00 and for starters we ordered scallops @ £7.50 and octopus soup @ £7.95 (it was described as being in a tomato sauce but was more like a soup – quite unusual).

 

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Scallops wrapped in pancetta with fruit mostarda

 

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Baby octopus in a spicy tomato sauce – a soup

 

For main course, L had pappardelle wild boar @ £10.50 while I had a quatro stagioni pizza @ £9.50, a good old traditional Italian stonebaked pizza.

 

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Pappardelle wild boar

 

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Quatro stagioni pizza @ £9.50

 

 

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Menu

 

For dessert we both ordered the Verdi special, mascarpone with nocino liqueur @ £4.95, absolutely gorgeous but very heavy and sickly! It would probably be good for sharing between two. And we were treated to limoncello on the house as a digestif. Altogether our three course meal for two with prosecco came to £75.77 including service.

 

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Verdi special dessert – mascarpone with nocino liqueur

 

The verdict: Traditional Italian food done well. Sets itself apart from the local area. Somewhere to visit if you’re after good food in Stepney Green.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: 237 Mile End Rd, London, UK
– Postcode: E1 4AA
– Nearest station: Stepney Green
– Website + menus: Verdi’s website
– Photos on flickr: Verdi’s images
– Location: Verdi’s map

Verdi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

LardButty in Berlin – Peperoncino Italian in Kreuzberg

Following an afternoon at the Carnival of Cultures and beers at the Von Loon boat bar (on the Landwehr Canal) in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, we headed for Peperoncino on D’s recommendation. She used to live near here and this Italian restaurant was already tried and tested, and very much a favourite of hers.

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Peperoncino Italian restaurant in Kreuzberg, Berlin

 

Located in a somewhat residential area, the restaurant was busy with all tables taken. D had booked ahead knowing that it’s a popular spot with the locals.

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Inside Peperoncino – a popular spot

 

The restaurant is run by Adriano and Ewelina, and service was welcoming from the moment we arrived. Ewelina was so hospitable we had the impression of being pampered in someone’s own home, while Adriano created a special antipasto sharing platter for the three of us (off menu). Some prosecco bubbles seemed like a good way to begin.

 

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Special antipasto sharing platter – aubergine and bean mix (a ratatouille veggie stew type dish – this was especially nice), ham, salami, artichokes, mozzarella, and smoked cheese

 

For main course, K had a gnocchi special – black truffle stuffed gnocchi in a truffle/butter sauce (gorgeous but being quite rich, it was a small portion), D had spaghetti with prawns and I had gnocchi classico – in a tomato sauce with mushrooms, prawns and salami (very tasty, dense and filling so K helped me out once he’d finished his smaller gnocchi special).

 

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Gnocchi special

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Spaghetti with prawns

 

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Gnocchi classico 

 

We shared a dessert platter of profiteroles, fruity ice-cream and chocolatey-truffley-ice-cream:

 

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Dessert platter – as served

 

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Desserts – underway

 

 

The verdict: Tucked away in a neighbourly area in Kreuzberg, this was a top recommendation from D. A great find. The patrons couldn’t have been any more hospitable and the Italian food was very good. I’d certainly visit again when in Berlin…

 
Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: Urbanstraße 137, Kreuzberg, 10967 Berlin
– Nearest station: U Südstern (U-Bahn station)
– Website + menus: Peperoncino website
– Photos on flickr: Peperoncino images
– Location: Peperoncino map

Italian at the Emperor – Aldgate

LardButty’s fave all-weather pub-restaurant in the City 2014

No matter the weather, it’s always the season for fine stone-baked pizza, a glass of cold dry white wine and a friendly face at The Emperor pub, Aldgate.


Come and share in some of LardButty’s visits here throughout 2014:
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Enjoying the sunshine on the Emperor’s terrace in summer


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Stone baked pizzas – four seasons (ham + mushroom) @ £8.95, Corrado (parma ham, rocket, tomato) @ £9.95 with chilled ciders and pinot grigio



Italian produce – inside The Emperor



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Corrado pizza – parma ham, rocket + tomato @ £9.95


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Pepperoni pizza – spicy salami, tomoato + mozzarella @ £8.95


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Penne porcini @ £9.95 – a winter warmer made from handpicked wild mushrooms


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Penne arrabiata – chilli tomato pasta @ £8.95


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Mushroom gnocchi


It’s not just the food that’s great here, the service is genuinely hospitable too. It’s like stepping out of the City and into a little corner of Italy.


Menus – click to enlarge

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Pizza menu


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Sandwiches + sides menu


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Main menu


Here’s to whiling away four seasons at The Emperor in 2015…


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Italian
~ Address: 35 Vine Street, City, London
~ Postcode: EC3N 2PX
~ Nearest station: Aldgate (tube) or Tower Gateway (DLR)
~ Photos on flickr: images of The Emperor
~ Location: The Emperor map



Emperor on Urbanspoon

Major Tom’s Social – Harrogate

“A youth club for grown ups” is how Major Tom’s Social describes itself. It’s apt.

Situated on the first floor over Space Harrogate (vintage shop on The Ginnel) Major Tom’s Social is a big room with comfy old sofas around the perimeter, decorated with memorabilia like vinyl records and posters of classic films.


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Major Tom’s Social – a youth club for grown ups


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Above Space Harrogate down The Ginnel

With its quirky interiors, offering something a bit different from other bars in central Harrogate, it feels inviting from the moment you walk in.

Perhaps more importantly, there’s an excellent choice of drinks (including craft beers on tap) and proper Italian stone-baked pizzas on offer, all served by friendly, helpful bar staff.

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Real ales on draft – including some Atom (from Hull) + Northern Alchemy (from Newcastle) beers on this day

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Service with a smile


We try a couple of beers: Northern Alchemy’s oatmeal pale (mango, lime + cracked black pepper) and Atom’s IPA (both gorgeously bright and easy drinking) before moving onto prosecco with pizzas.


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Pizza menu


Pizzas start from £5.00 – very reasonably priced and not to be missed. I had a free range egg, spinach and goats cheese pizza @ £6.00. Both the thin stone-baked base and fresh toppings were superb.


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Egg, spinach + goats cheese


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Roast squash, goats cheese + toasted pine nuts


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Chorizo, chilli + chargrilled peppers


The verdict: nice style, great atmos and service, fab beers and pizza. Go if you can.

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Major Tom’s Social Club


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: pub, British
~ Address: The Ginnel, Harrogate
~ Postcode: HG1 2RB
~ Tel: 01423 566984
~ Website: Space Harrogate website
~ Photos on flickr: photos of Major Tom’s Social
~ facebook page: Major Tom’s Social on fb
~ Location: Major Tom’s Social map


RELATED LINKS
Nearby dining + drinking:
~ Black Sheep Brewery – tours + visitor centre, Masham
~ Carriages – Knaresborough
~ Drum + Monkey – seafood in Harrogate
~ Storm at The Dower House – Knaresborough
~ Sukhothai – Harrogate, top Thai in Yorkshire


Major Tom's Social on Urbanspoon