Bocca di Lupo (which means ‘into the mouth of the wolf’) is an Italian restaurant in Soho and one in which I’ve always struggled getting a table – believe me I’ve tried. We were on the waiting list for dinner for my friend’s birthday and as luck would have it, they managed to squeeze us in as long as they had the table back within two hours.
The restaurant was split into two sections; a long and narrow bar with stool seats overlooking the kitchen, and a small dining room out the back, which is where we were seated. Waiters quickly scurried in and out of the tightly packed tables, which gave everything a slightly chaotic but charming atmosphere.
The menu, mostly in Italian, was split into lots of different sections making it confusing to know how much, and of what, to order. When asked for some advice our waiter replied “you cannot order too much!” – he was a pleasant chap but he wasn’t particularly helpful, let’s put it like that.
The bread; sourdough and onion focaccia, served with a really delicious olive oil, was so good we asked for more as soon as we devoured it.
We started with a load of deep fried things, or Fritti. The lamb sweetbreads with artichoke and sage (£7) were plentiful and cooked to perfection. Courgette flowers filled with mozzarella and anchovy (£4.50) were creamy, salty and ruddy lovely. My favourite however was the buffalo mozzarella boconcini (£4.50) – deep fried cheese is always going to win me over! The home salted cod (£4.50) was a little bit fish and chip shop greasy for me – I was hoping for less batter and more cod. The fish was soft and flakey though.
We opted for two pastas; pappardelle with duck ragú (£10) and the orecchiette with ‘nduja, red onion and tomato (£7), and both were the two best pasta dishes I’ve eaten in my life. The pasta, the sauce, the seasoning, the flavour – it was all so perfect; I’ve never quite eaten anything so wonderful.
Next was the meat, and there was loads of it. The spicy sausage (£7.50) and pork neck (£7.50) were both superb. The quail (£7.50), which looked like a seductive lady with her legs crossed, was so flavoursome and meaty. The only disappointment was the lamb skewer (£6) which was basically tiny pieces of dry overcooked meat; it didn’t seem in keeping with the wonders that sat next to it. All were served with chilli bruschetta, which was a great accompaniment.
For dessert we shared the milk free espresso gelato (£4) (they own Gelupo over the road which makes incredible gelato) and ‘Grandpa’s balls of deep fried ricotta and chocolate’ (£7). I can confirm Grandpa has delicious balls – the perfect balance between sweet and tangy; we devoured them in seconds.
Our dinner at Bocca di Lupo was a really great one and I’m glad I’ve finally been – those pasta dishes were so exceptional that I’m already thinking about when I can go back. Because the four of us shared everything it was far cheaper than I anticipated too, which is never a bad thing. There’s a good reason why it’s always so bloody busy.