An Italian in Mayfair – Bocconcino Review:
I was intrigued. In the crowded London restaurant scene, it’s easy to miss openings. I’d never heard of Bocconcino and so when I got a message on social media asking me if I’d like to review I wanted to find out more. It turns out the restaurant has been opened for over two years now and is the brainchild of Moscow raised restaurateur Mikhail Gokhner who spent time in Northern Tuscany, fell in love with the food and opened a collection of restaurants in Moscow before this, his first outlet in London.
Bocconcino has all the glamour you expect of Mayfair, with soft cream leather armchairs contrasting with the warehouse style exposed brickwork and stunning lighting. The menu is an eclectic mix of dishes – there are plenty of pizzas, pasta dishes and a good selection of classic and innovative antipasti and secondi. With a glass of Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore ‘Bosco di Gica’ in hand, we made our way through the extensive list. We order a couple of antipasti dishes and a sharing portion of the signature lobster linguine with cherry tomatoes to get things started and enjoyed the paired San Marzano,Talo, Verdeca IGP Puglia, 2015 which was fresh and minerally.
The Battuta di gambero rosso con arance e capperi (a carpaccio of red prawns with orange and capers) was delicate, beautiful and utterly delicious. An excellent start to the meal – it would not have been out of place as part of a fine dining menu. Carciofi alla Romana is a simple dish of artichokes with a herb and olive oil dressing and the version here worked well.
Pasta dishes are labelled as Primi, but served (and priced) as main course sized portions. Sharing was an excellent idea – we would never have managed a full portion each but, it would have been tragic not to have tried this stunning dish. Linguine with Scottish lobster and cherry tomato came with a rich tomato veloute sauce, chunks of fresh lobster and fresh cherry tomatoes. Paired with a Malvasia Nera, a wonderful red wine from Italy’s Apulia region, with fresh cherry and spicy notes, good structure and body, we were very happy. This is the sort of dish where I want to ask for the recipe – it’s Italian comfort food at its best, I really enjoy cooking this kind of food and love eating it even more. If you are not a fan of lobster, the pasta dishes include a wonderful sounding tagliatelle with wild boar ragu or tagliatelle al tartufo nero pregiato.
Pizzas are the large, thin crust type that you find in Italy – and they come with a whole range of toppings. We didn’t try, but I do have half a mind to go back for Pizza gorgonzola e pere or Pizza con il tartufo.
For our secondi, I picked the filetto Rossini, with duck foie gras and black truffle. A bit of an extravagance perhaps, but a test of a kitchen that was turning out perfect looking pasta and pizza dishes. It was utterly delicious with a generous helping of foie gras topping and a rich Madeira sauce, topped with shavings of black truffle and on a bed of spinach. My paired wine was a glass of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Volte, Toscana IGT, 2012, a fruity, subtly spiced red wine with strong tannins.
My companion meanwhile, had chosen the market fish of the day (Sea Bream), which came with capers, olives and lemon. It looked light and refreshing – and flawlessly cooked. Paired with a floral and citrussy San Silvestro, Fossili, Gavi di Gavi, 2015, she was perfectly happy. And, it was the lighter, healthier and more sensible option!
By the time we got to ‘dessert’ both of us were really full. But, Bocconcino has a lovely option in the form of a plate of Italian sweets, which we enjoyed as the perfect end to an excellent meal.
I wasn’t sure if I’d like Bocconcino. An authentic Italian restaurant started by a Russian restaurateur in London doesn’t sound too convincing. But the food was excellent and I do suspect they’ve found a niche. This is somewhere with something for everyone – but without any compromise on quality.
Bocconcino is at
19 BERKELEY STREET W1J 8ED
020 7499 4510