Bocca di Lupo
2 Archer Street, W1D
A small-plates restaurant that prides itself on regional Italian cooking, a considered wine list and a fizzy atmosphere. The bar stretching alongside an open kitchen puts the theatre in Theatreland, but the rear dining room is a more intimate, austere affair.
Jostling for attention in Soho, it’s surrounded by similar, tapas-style Italian restaurants – most notably Polpo and Polpetto – but trust us, this is the one to be seen at. It’s so packed with celebs that my guest accidentally handed her coat to The Thick of It’s Tom Hollander when we visited.
Jacob Kenedy, previously of Clerkenwell’s Moro, looks after the food while the wine is taken care of by Victor Hugo (not that one, although he probably sank a few writing Les Miserables in Guernsey).
Menus change twice daily to pack in seasonal produce, but whenever you go, expect simple, hearty dishes showcasing three or four ingredients, tops. Between two, a couple of small plates to start, followed by two large ones and a side salad should get the job done. Shaved romana courgettes and artichokes smothered in parmesan and anchovy are sharp and addictive, a generous portion of tender octopus and peas is spring on a plate, or go the whole hog and tuck into suckling pig with braised fennel.
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
The cosy dining room leaves scant elbow space for folders and tablets, so book The Remus Room to impress clients. It holds up to 32 guests and a private chef serves up dishes around a reclaimed teak table by influential Italian designer Martino Gamper. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT’S FOR DESSERT?
Like all good Italians, chocolate, coffee and ice cream. But Bocca knows how to have fun with it, serving strawberry sorbet as a creamy drink and turning chocolate, candied fruits and nuts into an alternative black pudding. For some of the best ice cream in London, pop across the road to sister gelateria, Gelupo.
Whether it’s a lover or a client, this is a great place to schmooze. Flattering lighting, an excitable atmosphere, and an evolving menu make for an evening that’ll feed your senses just as much as your appetite.