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

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

La Pizzeria Italiana – Catford

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Star pizza, star restaurant


There’s no nice way of putting this: La Pizzeria Italiana looks rough from outside. And that’s because it’s at the base of Eros House, a drab concrete tower in Catford.

But stick with me here, it’ll be worth your while…


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Eros House – RIBA’s London architecture medal, 1962


This grade II listed building was awarded a ‘London architecture medal’ by RIBA in 1962, and given a ‘civic trust award’ in 1964 (an acknowledgement of the new, brutalist, concrete-slab architecture of the time?). The concrete is textured to look like wood and – being almost as iconic as the Catford cat – you might even grow to love it in time.

All I’m saying is don’t let first appearances fool you.


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Come this way – just grin and bear it a moment more…


The approach to La Pizzeria Italiana may not be appealing. But peer in through the doorway and it’s a different matter: it’s a small restaurant (about 50 covers) with frescoes of an Italian landscape and Venetian waterways. A mobile of teacups and white feather boas hangs centre-stage from a fabric ceiling; all really inviting and just that little bit different.


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Tea cups, feather boas, soft lighting + Italian hospitality


Warmly acknowledged the moment we stepped inside, our waitress was really hospitable and helpful. The patron (from Bologna) came over several times to make sure we were comfortable, and to let us know we could go ‘off menu’ (“Don’t be shy!” were his exact words) – all dishes are freshly cooked to order and can easily be adapted to individual preference.


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Admiring the sea view, Venetian waterways, inside La Pizzeria Italiana


It was a hot evening at the end of the working week and some cold bubbles were in order. A bottle of prosecco arrived, served in a solid rubber bag filled with iced water – a practical alternative to a space-consuming wine bucket.

Despite being hidden from the street, this intimate restaurant was busy, doing a good turnover of tables. And it attracted all types of clientele: we noted a group of senior citizens, a young couple, a party of three lads (in their twenties), a couple of families with very young children, and a couple of middle aged couples (we were one of them and in case you’re wondering, anyone over 35 qualifies as middle aged).

If their target market is anyone who enjoys fine quality pizza and food in a comfortable, relaxed environment then they look to be on target. That market is diverse, and all looked to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. You’d be hard pressed not to feel comfortable here.


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Clockwise: Hand grenade style Prosecco bottle, Insalata Tricolore, Caprina pizza, antipasto


La Pizzeria Italiana was first recommended to me in August 2013 by CaT here on LardButty, and I’m seriously gutted that it took me nearly a year to visit. Still, I’ve been twice in my first week so I think that says something (aside from I’m greedy).

We are committed to working our way through the menu, and have found that the pizzas are outstanding (*proper* Italian, thin crust pizzas) and everything’s freshly prepared. Given the excellent food quality, it’s also reasonably priced.

So far, LardButty can recommend:

~ Insalata Tricolore – tomatoes, mozzarella, basil + avocado starter salad @ £5.50
~ Antipasto Miso All’ Italiana – Italian cured meats + roast vegetables @ £7.50
~ Caprina pizza – Mozzarella, goats cheese, olives, red onions, basil + fresh chopped tomatoes @ £9.50 with extra mushrooms @ £1.00
~ Lasagna Al Forno – fresh pasta layers, Bolognese, Béchamel and parmesan @ £8.95

~ Tomatoey meatballs – starter @ £4.95
~ Parmagiana – baked aubergine starter @ £4.95


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Meatball starter @ £4.95


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Parmagiana – baked aubergine starter @ £4.95


~ Quattro Stagioni – four seasons pizza with Mozzarella, tomato, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms + spinach @ £9.00

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Four seasons pizza @ £9.00


~ and last but by no means least: the star special pizza @ £11.50

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Star pizza – choose 5 ingredients/toppings for each ‘corner’


This star shaped pizza had real novelty value, while also bearing a different tasty treat in every corner. My five toppings were anchovy, mushroom, chilli, dolcelatte, and olives, with loads of fresh salad.

The verdict: Don’t rush me, I haven’t worked my way through *all* the menu yet (It’s amazing. Is La Pizzeria Italiana still one of Catford’s best kept secrets? shhhhhh….)


Still working through the menu:

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Whitebait starter @ £5.95

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Calamari starter with tartar sauce @ £6.95 (squid so fresh it melts in your mouth)

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Fish stew starter @ £4.95

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Avocado and walnut salad starter @ £4.95

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Avocado al forno starter @ £4.95 – baked avocado

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Calzone Napoletano – Mozzarella, tomato, tuna, capers, anchovies, olives + ricotta @ £8.95 (superb)

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Napoletana with extra mushrooms @ £8.50 + £1.00

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Quattro Formaggi with extra pepperoni @ £8.50 + £1.00

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Special: fresh monkfish in tomato + sweet pepper sauce with mussels + clams @ £15.95 (as served)

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Special: fresh monkfish in tomato sauce – simply stunning, generous portion with lots of meaty fresh monkfish

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Special: fresh seabass in tomato sauce made with fresh ginger and chilli, served with potatoes and spinach @ £13.50

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Salad special: warm chicken, dolcelatte, and grapes @ £6.95

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Salad special: warm chicken, dolcelatte, and grapes @ £6.95

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Zabaglione @ £4.95 (divine – lovely and strong on the Marsala wine ingredient!)


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Italian
~ Address: 3 Eros House, Brownhill Road, Catford
~ Postcode: SE6 2EF
~ Tel: 020 8461 4606
~ Nearest station: Catford Bridge, Catford, Ladywell
~ Website + menus: La Pizzeria Italiana website
~ Photos on flickr: images of La Pizzeria Italiana food
~ facebook page: La Pizzeria Italiana on fb
~ Location: La Pizzeria Italiana map


RELATED LINKS
More Catford dining:
~ Catford Chippy
~ FS2 – Turkish deliveries
~ Mekan – Mediterranean cuisine
~ Pide – Turkish pizza
~ Sapporo Ichiban
~ Turkish Kitchen


FourAndHalfStars


La Pizzeria Italiana on Urbanspoon

Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – Rome

Saturday night in Rome (2 of 2)

Following pre-dinner beers at no.au and a re-visit of the Pantheon (obligatory when in Rome), we stumbled upon Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio on Piazza dei Caprettari, nearby.


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Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio


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Outdoor dining


It looked appealing and cosy, serving typical Roman cuisine. It was this that attracted us rather than it’s grand, fourteen-syllabled name which doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily.

Greeted with welcoming Italian hospitality the moment we stepped around the hedge, we ordered a bottle of Elena Walch (EWA) vino bianco d’Italia (recommended as an aperitif or to accompany slightly spicy dishes owing to its dominant grape ie. 60% Gewürztraminer, 20% Muller Thurgau, 20% Chardonnay) which was very reasonably priced and turned out to be a really good wine.


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EWA vino bianco d’Italia


From the extensive menu, and with a little assistance from our jolly waiter, we ordered deep fried artichoke flowers (a Roman speciality) and octopus for starters.


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Deep fried artichoke flowers


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Cucina tipica Romana – octopus in a tomato sauce, artichoke tempura


For main course, K ordered porcini fettuccine while I had potato gnocchi seasoned with a tomato and basil sauce. Both were outstanding and full of fresh ingredients giving a surprising complement of flavours in each mouthful.


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Porcini fettuccine


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Fresh gnocchi


Although we were stuffed we were so enjoying this dining experience, that K ordered a strawberry pannacotta for dessert. It was outstanding, served in the juice of fresh strawberries (no fake flavoured sauce from a bottle here).


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Strawberry pannacotta


A serendipitous find, Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio has set a high benchmark for this holiday’s dining.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Roman, Italian (in Italy)
~ Address: Piazza dei Caprettari, 63, 00186 Roma, Italy
~ Website + menus: Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Ristorante Archimede S. Eustachio food
~ facebook page: On fb
~ Location: Ristorante Archimede S.Eustachio map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*