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1st time at Bocca di Lupo on Fri - what to order?

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Hi Chowhound,

Going this Fri (April 20) for DH's birthday (just the 2 of us) at 6pm and hoping to find out from you all if there are any must-orders. Am a pasta person more than a meat person so thinking about "
Fazzoletti (pasta handkerchiefs) with broad beans, basil & Pecorino" b/c from previous reviews here sounds like something simple they'd do well. Limster remarked that the fritti were a bit overdone, so a bit wary of those - anyone have good experiences? Has anyone ordered the pre-theatre 'one-pot meal' specials?

They don't seem very seasonal if they have the same salad on the menu now -
Radish & celeriac salad with pomegranates, pecorino Romano & truffle oil - that Limster reviewed in a Nov 2008 post.

I'm a NYC expat who's been in London 4 years - haven't had much Italian here, but love the simplicity of Lupa and Babbo back in NYC.

Also, are the plates tiny? Also thinking of Crescentine (fried flatbread from Bologna) with prosciutto sardo & squacquerone cheese; Veal tongue, peara (bread & bone marrow 'polenta') home-candied mostarda & salsa verde; Octopus braised with peas, spring onions & basil.

Even if the menu changes between now and Fri, it's the categories of dishes I'm interested in. Thanks! Will report back.

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  1. Harters - fair point but I'd say not unreasonable to ask whether there are any known stand out dishes that shouldn't be missed on a one off visit.

    Foodie94 - I absolutely love BdL - probably my most visited restaurant in London (and therefore anywhere).

    First of all - the food is definitely seasonal. The salad you mention is one of their signature dishes hence why it is still on the menu a few years later. Other items will vary from day to day and week to week so I wouldn't bother analysing the online menu too much.

    The small plates aren't tiny at all though you will need a few to fill you up. For a light(ish) lunch I would typically have a couple plates, for dinner a few more than that.

    In terms of recommendations, the pasta is fantastic. The nduja orrechiette is another one of their signatures and well worth getting if you like a little chilli kick. If on the menu, the pumpkin and amaretti tortellini is also excellent.

    I'm also a big fan of their raw/cured dishes - recently they have had a crudita di mare dish with raw langoustine/scallops/sea bream with a blood orange dressing - beautifully seasoned and fresh.

    I'd recommend a few of their fritti romani (the stuffed olive particularly).

    I had the veal tongue the other day which, whilst tasty, is most definitely a winter dish so depends what you fancy at the time (I also found the 'polenta' slightly bland though the mostarda/salsa verde made up for it).

    The only other real misstep I've had is their beef which I have found slightly under seasoned and, to be honest, there is so much inventiveness on the menu that it seems a shame to go for something like that which is pretty easy to find anywhere in london.

    Also don't neglect their sides - i had an incredible cold brocolli/parmesan dish the other day.

    Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Oh and try to nab a couple seats by the kitchen bar if you can - better atmosphere than the main dining room.

    ps. am heading off to NYC in June and already planning my Babbo reservation strategy. Let me know how this compares.

    1. mjgauer, many thanks for that extremely helpful reply. The Crudità di mare sounds excellent. I lived in Japan for a few years so have a fondness for scallop sashimi, and it will be interesting to have it an Italian way. Good luck with Babbo - I assume you still need to call exactly 1 month before, but at least you don't have to wake up early like Americans do to reserve at European places. If you like soba, a recent discovery of mine is Cocoron on Delancey St - http://cocoron-soba.com/ . If there is anything specific you are looking for, maybe I can help, although I haven't lived there in 4 years, just visited.

      1. mjgauer, thanks again for the advice. We loved the nduja orrechiette, even though it was a tad spicy for me - you can taste every flavour in that dish and it's very satisfying. I like dishes that use meat as a flavouring. We also liked the veal tongue dish - nicely balanced. The radish salad and octopus dishes were nice but not stand-outs (I like my salad cut in a way that lets you get all the flavours in one bite), and unfortunately they didn't have the crudita di mare, which was disappointing. We had a one-dish meal too - tubular pasta with guanciale and borage and broad beans, which my partner liked but I found a bit too salty. I'd still prefer the more narrowly regional yet more exuberant dishes at Lupa or Babbo. The first meal I had at the former - eggplant involtini, with ricotta & mint, bavette cacio & pepe, veal saltimbocca, and an chocolate amaretti dessert - was one of my favourite meals of all time.