140a Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8PA
020 7379 0303 Price £29
Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo, the
duo behind Soho hit Bocca di Lupo,
have transformed this former Pizza
Hut. Their somewhat confusing new
concept is Italian street food served
up from counters - with no menu, no
queuing system and prices determined
by the weight of the food (£3 per 100g).
The casual interior tries to recreate a
bustling piazza in Italy, complete with
strings of bright 'carnival lights' and
Italian radio in the background. Eat
with your hands at tall tables, or perch
on the stone steps lining the room.
The daily selection is prepared using
whatever's fresh and in
season at the market,
so stu ed-crust deeppan
pizza has been
replaced with a more
authentic choice by
the slice. We tried
vibrant pizza rosa
with anchovies, and
pizza cruda topped
with fresh rocket,
prosciutto and datterini tomatoes. Hot
bites included top-notch pumpkin
arancini and other deep-fried balls
(polpette), such as 'lasagnancino' (fried
balls of lasagne) - sold out on our
visit. Fish is also fried to order. As an
antidote to all that frying, you can order
one of the tasty salads: rabbit, fennel,
farro grains and red onion, perhaps,
or chickpea, aubergine and tomato.
Great gelati from the separate Gelupo
counter satisfy sweet cravings; while
drinks (all £3.50) include glasses of
wine, Birra Moretti and Aperol Spritz.
Most dishes we sampled passed
muster (though some polpette were
unpleasantly spongy and had been
left on the counter too long) and the
format is a quick, no-fuss way to grab
a bite. On the downside, plastic pots
and cheap metal trays aren't the best
way to showcase decent ingredients.
Vico might want to be a cool streetfood
market when it grows up - but
at the moment it's a noisy teenager
demanding pizza and ice cream.
THE LAST WORD Pay by weight for pizzas,
polpette and arancini at this Italian street-food
specialist on Cambridge Circus - with ices to follow
The Truscott Cellar
240 Haverstock Hill, NW3 2AE
020 3581 3223 Price £38
Moody, romantic and rather sexy, this new
neighbourhood wine bar, owned by Andrew
and Mary-Jane Fishwick of Maida Vale's Truscott
Arms, is hugely welcome in a gastronomically
stagnant pocket of Hampstead. Dark wood,
marble counters and low lights create a
smoochy atmosphere, with seating along the
sleek bar or at intimate tables. Bottles line the
kitchen partition, a nod to the staggering 380
wines o ered. With vintages from Armenia
to Argentina on their list, the Fishwicks seem
intent on educating our palates.
In the kitchen, chef Aiden McGee (formerly
at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) rustles up
seasonal small plates with a very British accent.
Beef chips (slow-braised beef cheek wrapped
in polenta and served with homemade brown
sauce) are a highlight: tender and perfect for
a cold autumn evening. Our braised rabbit,
served in the shape of croquettes, was a tad
chewy and the Cornish cod could have done
with more seasoning, but the range and quality
of the dishes is beyond that of most wine bars.
As with any new venue, there are teething
problems - service is slightly scatty, though
when you can catch their eye the sta are
friendly and full of excellent recommendations.
Our verdict? The Cellar is a great asset if you're
a local, and worth braving the Northern Line
for if you're not.
WORD Best of
British cooking and
a huge wine list that
will � ll oenophiles
with joy are worth
crossing town for.
gem for lucky locals
We love this interesting
list, which has loads
of options by the glass
and carafe. There's huge choice from
around the world, though the Loire
and Languedoc are particularly well
represented and a good place to start.
BEST BUY Mont Rocher Carignan 2013,
Languedoc-Roussillon, France, £23.
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