Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bocca di Lupo with One Slippery Paw

This wolf packs the best of Italy in one bag and plonks it in the heart of Soho. And the best thing about it? The goodies come in both large and small sizes so one could experience more regions of Italy in one meal. Take the peasant styles from Lazio; mix with a bit of multi-cultural Sicilian cuisine and throw in more sun-kissed Campania cooking. The concept is brilliant.

I was originally booked for the chef’s counter seats, but a table became available when we arrived. Though it is more fun to watch the grills in flames and chefs at work, my special friend deserves undivided attention. After I picked a bottle from Northern Italy, I invited him to study the menu, but really I already decided what I wanted to order…fake democracy, I know.

Risotto of Cuttlefish & its Ink
I rarely order arroz negro; just downright embarrassing to end up with a black tooth or black lip liner. However Friend chose this from my short-listed options. And Im glad he did when the glimmering dish of mini black pearls arrived. The round plump rice was al-dente and evenly coated with a layer of shiny black ink,masking small blocks of squidgy fungi and odd shreds of cuttlefish ; the flavours was penetrative, bold and authentic.

Tortiglioni all'Amatriciana (tubular pasta with guanciale - pig cheek bacon - tomato & pecorino Romano)
Yea, small really is quite small. I think I could just about count 15 pieces of tubular pasta, but it was a darn good 15 pieces cooked to perfection. What stole the show was the guanciale though, a bit like lomo ham but much fattier with a lump of transparent lard, which bursted into juicy pork. The mild heat and zingy tomato sauce lifted its weight and completed the recipe. Awesome.

Grilled Squid with Gremolata
I was originally drawn to the Rustic Pork Sausage infused with Foie Gras in the grill section, but went for the much less talked about Squid. And there is a good reason why people dont talk about it: there is nothing much to say. That one piece of squid was smaller than the size of my palm, slightly bigger than the wedge of lemon; it was happily swimming in a pool of olive oil with algae rocket leaves dangling. Yes tender, but not much flavour  why £7.50?

Roast Suckling Pig & Grapes
I have a soft spot for suckling pig, the crispy skin, melting fat, and shredding meat in oozing juices not quite here. The skin was more hard than crisp, fat more chewy than melty, juices more poured over on than oozing. As if the meat block was boiled and simmered in water for a few hours, then left in the roast to dry. All the piggy goodness drained and so they drowned it in a watery flimsy jus. Judging from the skin I don’t think it was suckling pig, more like a regular hunk of pork belly. Really quite disappointing.

This started off so good; pasta section of the menu was spot on, but sadly the rest of the meal didnt measure up. I can easily blame it on poor choice of items, but should I? For a joint that has been adored by the London crowd since its opening, should I not have confidence in the non-signature dishes? Afterall its book is hardly convincing when they have only nailed a handful of recipes. Some dishes are conspicuously overpriced, while others are fair valued. Its one of those places you have to dodge carefully from the menu.
I like Bocca di Lupo but didnt fall in love with it.

12 Archer Street
Tel: 0207 734 2223


  1. I semi agree (sorry!) with your "ordering poor items" you should go for courgette flowers, rib of beef for two, fried artichoke a la guido-rather than pasta ....its too easy to make alot of money for pasta for them means they can get away with not doing it justice unfortunately!

  2. dont be sorry:) Like I said, it's made a london favourite for a reason. Ironically it's the pasta that I enjoyed, so I'm happy for them to earn the fatter margin... the efforts in other dishes were lacking however.

    But I will make sure I try the items you listed when I bump into this Mouth again!

  3. I ate here yesterday and felt the exact same way about the latter half of the meal falling short. The bottle of wine helped numb the pain however.