I had been meaning to take The Girl to Bocca di Lupo for ages, and typically had done zilch all about it. Until recently, Bocca di Lupo was currently the number one London foodie destination on the Urban Spoon hot list. I managed to get a table at a decent time (in other words not at Tea-Time or the Witching Hour), and one of the best-if not the best- tables at the back of the room, with comfy leatherette armchairs. Service was charming, and efficient.
Initial reactions were good, even if the lighting is a trifle on the harsh side; but I can see what they're trying to achieve: a sophisticated interpretation of a late 1940's Italian canteen, and this meets with some success. It reminded me greatly (at least to look at) of none other than that shining beacon of civilisation and hope, Harry's Bar in Venice- although the food at Bocca di Lupo is cooked, without doubt, to a much higher standard. Those of an artistic bent might be interested to learn that the walls are lined with tasteful canvases by the Italian-American artist, Haidee Becker.
This is The New Austerity. As at 22 Great Queen Street, menus were printed on unpretentious sheets of throwaway cheap paper, and at Bocco di Lupo the food is restricted to a selection of classic regional Italian dishes. The very helpful waiter suggested we went for a selection of the smaller dishes- in the Tapas manner.
The "tripe with cured pork cheek, chilli and tomato" was wonderful: for once the tripe didn't taste like rubber, and was cooked to perfection. The "artichoke a la Giudia" was crispy, the "rustic pork and foie gras sausages with farro and porcini", divine. The "grilled squid with gremolata" tasted as squid should taste, and for a light pudding, the "blood oranges" were just what we needed.
Wine was provided by the glass, and Bocco di Lupo has an interesting and intelligent regional wine list.
Jiminy Cricket, I really like this place; and I'm currently in quite a picky mood when it comes to reviewing restaurants. Bucco di Lupo is grown-up, civilised yet utterly unpretentious. The food is wonderful, too- which helps.