It is hard to imagine that when Bocca di Lupo opened its doors in 2008 Archer Street was little more than a shabby side alley in the wrong part of Soho. Fast forward to today and this is now the South Soho, the destination of choice for those looking for the Soho away from the chains and the tourists; and Archer Street is now a charming little street with a couple of bars, Gelupo (Bocca’s gelateria) and the hip Ham Yard Hotel near one end. Bocca di Lupo kick-started this revolution and put Archer Street on the map and 6 years on it is still packed every night due to its excellent food and outstandingly good wine list.
Bocca di Lupo is an Italian restaurant that offers a selection of unusual regional dishes from across Italy. It is a small space that has been stylishly designed so that it doesn’t feel too cramped and if you can’t get a table then there is always the option to eat at the long bar that runs along one side of the restaurant. There is a lot to choose from on the menu, the dishes are available in small or large portions, with the region of origin listed beside their description. Whilst there are a lot of unusual dishes on the menu, there is also a sprinkling of less obscure ones too. This is genius as you can taste your way across Italy mixing old favourites with new without worrying too much about an ingredient you wouldn’t usually pick. I’m glad to say one of my own personal favourites, the humble Aubergine Parmigiana, is a regular star on the menu, which changes daily. Other memorable dishes this visit were Artichoke alla giudia and the Buffalo mozzarella bocconcini both from Roma. The Ricotta tortelloni verdi with butter & sage from Bologna and the Spaghettini with raw tomato, olives & basil from Campania – it sounds so simple yet was bursting with flavour that one wondered how it could possibly be predominately pasta and toms! The desserts are delicious too and the ice cream is freshly made across the street in Gelupo.
The service is friendly and super slick. Yet this professionalism hasn’t removed the warmth and spontaneity of a small business. One particular time stands out for me, we hadn’t been able to get a table that night so instead had settled on returning to Gelupo for desert after eating elsewhere; a member of staff overheard me lamenting the fact that my favourite desert was only available in the restaurant. He introduced himself, politely explained that he’d overheard the conversation and wondered if I would like him to order the much desired desert from the restaurant and bring it over. Now that is going the extra mile!
Footnotes and credits: This is an independent article and the author has always paid for their meal at Bocca di Lupo.
Photography via google images and is free from copyright (as far as we know).