Polpo was one of the first of its kind to embrace the scruffy-chic interior, with the exposed walls, paper menus and hipster staff.¬†But unlike the many places that have gone on to imitate this style, there is a reason for it here. The inspiration comes from the small Venetian backstreet¬†b√†caros, which are humble little restaurants that serve simple food (I’ve read the intro in the Polpo cookbook- definitely one for the shelf). But this is very much Soho’s interpretation of a b√†caro, and¬†despite the deliberately worn-out decor, it is anything but humble. Several years after opening, it still remains as busy and good as ever, and it is still one of my favourite spots in Soho.

Sticking with the whole informal¬†b√†caro vibe, they don’t take reservations for dinner and you aren’t allowed to go elsewhere once you’ve put your name down. I get this from a business perspective and wouldn’t mind it too much if it wasn’t for the fact that the Campari bar downstairs resembles a war bunker. Crammed in there with fifty other hungry punters all staring desperately at the door for their name to be called out, makes rubbing shoulders with your neighbour a little bit too literal. At least the cocktails are good.

To start things off we had Ricotta, Squash and Sage Crostini (¬£3) which were lovely rich and creamy bites.¬†I’d have tooth-picked them up all night if they’d have let me. Be prepared for some piss-poor photos, it’s really dark in there.


To keep the flow of dishes going the Arancini (£3) soon arrived. They were a little stodgy, and some way off the heights of the truffle risotto balls at Cafe Murano.


Next up was the Spinach, Parmesan and soft Egg Pizzette (¬£8), which is my favourite dish here. The creamy egg yolk is great to mop up with the pizza crust. Tonight it didn’t have as much of that parmesan hit that I remembered, but I was still licking my finger and rubbing it across the plate.


Then came the Cuttlefish and Ink Gnocchi, Gremolata (¬£8) which was a little bit citrusy for my liking, which is strange for me given I bloody love lemons. My ¬†partner on the other hand absolutely loved it and she doesn’t usually like citrus flavour. Work that one out for yourself.

The Lamb & Pistachio Meatballs (¬£7) had a lovely smooth texture and were fine, but I didn’t really get much of the pistachio. I was hoping for a little crunch inside the meatballs, but this was missing.

The Split Pea and Ham Hock Risotto (¬£7) was a generous portion and there was plenty of the ham in there. The risotto rice was cooked in a way that I’ll never achieve at home, and for this price why would I ever bother trying to again.


The Pork Belly, Radicchio and Hazelnuts (£9) was perfectly cooked, and the crackling and nuts gave each mouthful a real crunchy goodness, and it was soaked in an intense meaty juice. Delicious.


We were still hungry so we went for the Anchovy and Green Olive Pizzette (£7), which could have had a little more of both ingredients on, but only because we were greedy to have more of that salty hit they both give.


The bill came to ¬£93 with service, and the bottle of red we had for ¬£27 took up a good portion of that. It was fine but the house wine here at ¬£18 is really worth ordering.¬†The service was friendly as ever, although we did ask three different people for olive oil and it never showed up. And tonight I thought they could have been a little bolder (or more generous) with the flavours. Apart from that it again left me feeling happy.¬†It’s just the perfect little restaurant, and despite so many others imitating this style, it still manages to feel entirely original. I’d recommend it to anybody who hasn’t already been.

Food: 8.5/10

Service: 7/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Value: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

41 Beak Street, London

Square Meal

Polpo on Urbanspoon


Pizza Pilgrims

I never managed to catch the van. It had swanned on over to Knightsbridge before I could nab a slice of their famed pizza. But thankfully they have opened up a restaurant on Dean Street.¬†Inside has a cosy old-school feel with the clay oven taking centre stage. Upstairs there are 8 window seats perfect if you’re eating alone and want to people watch.



I went the Guest Pizza (¬£9)-¬†smoked mozzarella, courgette, garlic and lemon and chilli (which it could have done with a little more of). After the first bite I’m happy to say that the pilgrimage was really worth it. They’ve ¬†nailed the art. So many restaurants get it wrong- the dough is either soggy and can’t hold the toppings, or it’s too crisp with no flavour. Here the dough was piping hot and incredibly soft, like the best bread. The toppings really worked and with a drizzle of good chilli oil it was the perfect pizza. It might not look like the prettiest pizza, but that’s the way it should be. After all it is homemade. I’m sick of every pizza being so uniform and neat with perfectly round pepperoni slices.


A week later I was back, this time ordering the Marinara. Again it was a top notch pizza. That dough really is the best I’ve had, and the tomato sauce is really rich, making it a steal at ¬£6.


It’s hard not to love Pizza Pilgrims, and the pizza is up there with the best I’ve had in London. It’s worth taking a look on their website as well just to see how far they went to bring this pizza back to us.


11 Dean St, London W1D 3RP


Square Meal



Zucca is located right in the heart of foodie’s heaven on Bermondsey Street, just a five minute walk from both Maltby Street and Borough Market. It offers quality authentic Italian cooking without the high-end prices. Sitting up at the bar overlooking the open kitchen, the food is cooked and presented with the minimum amount of fuss. It is clean and precise, with the focus firmly being on the main ingredient of each dish. If a piece of meat only requires a little salt and squeeze of lemon, then that’s all that it will get.

A starter of venison, beetroot and parmesan (around £8). was a simple marriage of flavours and textures. A slice of aubergine lasagne (£7) was lovely and rich but such a tiny portion that it left us wishing it was twice the size.



On the waiter’s recommendation my partner went for the tagliatelle with guinea fowl (¬£15). More meat wouldn’t have gone a miss, but the pasta was perfect and what little sauce there was had a great flavour.¬†A¬†veal chop with spinach and lemon (¬£18.50) with a side of cannellini beans (¬£4.25) was a great example of how little needs to be done to a dish to make it taste as good as it possibly can. A succulent grilled chop served bang-on medium-rare, and bed of spinach laced in fresh lemon juice.¬†It was probably the best chop of any kind that I have ever eaten.




With a glass of red wine (¬£7.45), two bottles of San Pelligrino and a couple of strong Italian coffees, the bill came to ¬£85 after service. The staff were friendly and extremely informative, and it was great sitting up at the bar watching the chefs at work. There’s a great buzz in the¬†modern and chic dining room and it’s the perfect place for a casual Saturday lunch or simple dinner.

8/10 (£££)

184 Bermondsey St, London

Zucca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato