The Berlusconi-themed cabaret bar Bunga Bunga – a cavernous Covent Garden spin-off to the Battersea original – is down in the basement. But here, at street level, things are more sedate: Bungatini is a straight-up pizzeria with killer cocktails, a friendly vibe and the best pistachio gelato this side of the Dolomites.
The decor is an enjoyably off-kilter blend of traditional and modern: yes, it’s got a stripy awning, hanging bunches of dried chillis and a soundtrack of Roman swing. But the bar is decked out in lurid pink neon, there are USB ports at every table and flirty extracts from a learn-Italian tape play on a loop in the loos.
The menu, however, has ditched the contemporary edge in favour of rustic familiarity. First: creamy burrata served with smoky, pleasantly slimy aubergines and gooey mushroom-and-truffle arancini. Cocktails were just as good. An elderflower spritz was sparkly and sweet, the negroni flawless.
Pizza piccante came with sliced salami, ’nduja sausage and lumps of cooling ricotta, all drenched in a tomato sauce so gorily red that the plate looked like a scene from ‘The Godfather’. The gnocchi with Abrazzo black truffle was simpler but just as indulgent, swimming in a glistening butter sauce.
After all this, pudding could have been an afterthought. But one taste of the homemade pistachio ice cream and the preceding meal was forgotten: velvety and decadent, it had an intense nutty flavour.
For a crowd-pleasing Italian in town, Bungatini is acceptably priced and rather stylish. And four days later I’m still obsessing over that ice cream.