Bocca di Lupo – a London restaurant where you don’t break a leg

Bocca di Lupo is literally “mouth of the wolf”. It is all over Rome where it is part and parcel of the founding of the city Romulus and Remus myth.

But it also means something else. It is the Italian equivalent of “break a leg” – that strange invocation of good luck that is offered to someone treading the boards. Being Italian, it also works for opera as well as straight plays. Allegedly.

We went for a late Saturday lunch in the Soho restaurant. It was packed – and would remain so for most of the day. Hint number one is book. You don’t have to but it is sensible to do so.

Hint two is the best value is the “workers’ lunch”. This changes – as do many items on the menu – by the day. Some days, it will be called Roman Workers, another Venetian Workers. It is available from lunch time to 18.00 in the early evening.

For £17.50 (plus 15% service) , you get a starter course, a main and a salad. The main course on our visit was Sea Bream in Saor. (this is a classic Venetian dish, in which fish is deep-fried then left to marinate with onions in a sweetened vinegar). Every day, the main course is different. For a further £10, you get dessert, a glass of wine and coffee.

Because we were four adults and two children, we opted for the main menu. And it is every bit as good as the reviews say.

You get loads of bread – the menu each day tells you who in the kitchen is responsible for bread baking. We started with a selection of “fritti” – fried dishes. We had Buffalo Mozzarella Bocconcini, Baccala (salted cod) and olive stuffed with minced pork and veal. These range from £1.50 to £6.00. The menu said all these originated in Rome.

There is nothing guaranteed for vegans but there are dishes among the starters and main courses suitable for vegetarians.

Most items come in two sizes. For our mains, we went for spaghetti with bottarga and breadcrumbs, (wonderful!) risotto negro with cuttlefish and from the oven menu roast pumpkin, sage, parmesan and balsamic. The children were served a place of pappardelle with a venison ragu. Main dishes are mostly around £20.

We should not have, but did, opt for a few desserts. The Rum Baba (£14.00) was delicious (it said for two but one could have demolished it!). And the cassata siciliana was every bit as good.

Drinking – water, the children had orange juice and the adults wine. Wines are all Italian – house wine is £21.00 while most others start at £32.00.

The food quite honestly blew us away. It was so good. So very good.

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