Tuesday, October 26, 2010

London's Hottest Italian Gem

Weeks before my recent trip to London, my English foodie friend Emma gave me the heads up on Polpo, an Italian bacaro. Unanimous rave reviews. Amazing value. I must go.

Delicious selection of cicheti
Polpo means 'octopus' in Italian and I wish I had eight hands to wrap around all of the food on their exceptional tapas-styled Venetian menu. Located on popular Beak St. in the heart of Soho, it's about a year old. Polpo has just spawned a sister restaurant called Polpetto, also getting raves, and a third offspring is expected next spring. All in Soho.

Flank steak with porcini cream
The owners are on to a good thing. It's my idea of a perfect dinner spot - small, buzzy restaurant, impeccable tapas, beautiful people eating greedily...and offers great value. 

Oh, does Polpo deliver. There was a short wait for our table, made very civilized with a glass of Prosecco by the bar and a constant parade of the food to come. My friend and I could not stop ordering, not because we were still hungry, but because we wanted to taste everything - and it wouldn't break the bank.

Roast pumpkin, prosciutto + ricotta salata
The seasonal menu starts with two-bite cicheti such as arancini, decadent fried rice balls (£1.5), anchovy and chick pea crostini (£1), and fig, prosciutto + mint (£2).

A short but extremely appetizing selection of meat, fish and vegetable plates follows. 

Beetroot, rocket and walnut pesto
Our choices included the polpette, three savory meatballs in a rich tomato sauce (£5), a show-stopping roast pumpkin, prosciutto + ricotta salata (£6.5), and a perfectly grilled flank steak with porcini cream (£7.5). These plates was followed by a superb mackerel tartare with horseradish cream (£5.5), flavorful mozzarella, bobby beans + cobnuts (£6.5), and beetroot, rocket + walnut pesto (£5), among the best beets I've ever eaten.

Even the selection of fresh breads such as wild mushroom piadina (£5.5) should not be missed. Tapas portions are very generous and easily serve 2-3. Sadly, there was no room for dessert this time, but be assured next time, I will be savoring a slice of the chocolate salami (£2), maybe two. I can't wait to go back.

Note reservations accepted for lunch only. 41 Beak St. at Carnaby St., Soho. W1F 9SB

Polpo on Urbanspoon

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