I wasn't the only one to be getting excited about the Bocca di Lupo (trnsl: "mouth of the wolf") opening, particularly given its head chef Jacob Kennedy's connection to Moro, a gastronomic stalwart, and site of consistently beautiful and inspiring food.
Getting a table required nerves of steel, but we got there in the end, on a busy mid-week night. Bang in the heart of Soho, the space was buzzing and frenetic. We ate at the back (the restaurant is split into two: Spanish-style bar stool eating at the front, and rickety wooden tables squeezed together at the back).
The menu boasts local Italian cooking, from Naples and Bologna, to Puglia and Sicily, offering small starter-size plates so you can sample a selection of regional specialities. Foie gras sausage with farro and porcini, and their signature deep-fried artichoke hearts, were delectable and memorable, summoning enthusiastic murmurs with each mouthful. The bottle of Gavi was a refreshing accompaniment. An unusual dessert of Gelato al Riso (cinnamon and rice ice cream) was worth trying, but I'm not convinced. Honeycomb or coffee beans, yes, but crunchy risotto rice? I would have loved a Sicilian lemon ice, or a classic Roman scoop. But predictable and classic dishes are clearly not what Bocca di Lupo is bringing to London: and neither should it be. Its experimental twists and turns are exciting.
However, this was all sadly overshadowed by terrible service. We had to ask four times for a jug of water, and twice for the wine, and most of our dishes were forgotten, undoubtedly languishing under heat lamps until our waiter could be bothered to pick them up. We started getting a bit wound up about it, particularly when he started purposefully avoiding eye contact whilst sullenly and wordlessly dropping plates onto our table. I don't want to put anyone off, and I may well go again to give it another try (particularly as our visit was in their first fortnight of business, and it was insanely busy....). Let me know what you think.