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Polpo

Restaurants, Italian Soho
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
1/5
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Please note, this review refers to Polpetto, a more polished version of Polpo that used to be in this space. Time Out Food editors, July 2019.

In the days when exotic dancers still gyrated their way around the Raymond Revuebar in Walker’s Court, it would have been inconceivable that a restaurateur could become the ‘King of Soho’. But today the area is a hotspot for culinary rather than carnal pleasures. From the latest small-plates places to rock ‘n’ roll ramen joints, Soho has become a magnet for diners aiming to improve their cultural capital. And when it comes to successful ventures in the area, restaurateur Russell Norman takes the crown.

There’s no denying Norman’s credentials as a trendsetting restaurateur. After he and business partner Richard Beatty opened Polpo on Beak Street in 2009, there was a ripple of me-too establishments and there’s no shortage of pared-down New York-style diners in the ilk of their Rupert Street establishment Spuntino either. There are also two other branches of Polpo now - one in Covent Garden, the other in Smithfield. These days Norman also presents a BBC TV series (‘The Restaurant Man’) in which he shares his wisdom. And true to form, the latest incarnation of Polpetto (previously on a different site, a dining room above the French House on Dean Street) looks set to be a winner.      

The new Berwick Street premises are more upscale. The long, low-lit dining room bubbles with attentive staff serving Italian-inspired small plates to the appreciative crowd who don’t seem to mind being seated on tightly packed tables. In the basement dining room, there’s the bonus of a view of chef Florence Knight and her skilled team in a glass-fronted kitchen.

As well as more familiar assemblies such as fork-tender veal cheeks in an earthy fennel, white wine and bean stew, or sweet baby beetroots coated in poppy seeds and served with tangy gorgonzola cheese, there are many options on the menu which will have you reaching for your encyclopaedia. Small, green ‘cuckoo flower’ leaves added a fiery horseradish-like hit to a plate of boiled pink fir potatoes, while raw, pickled parsley-root discs tasted similar to parsnip. Each dish struck an impressive balance between simplicity and satisfying flavours. Cocktails too were cleverly mixed with Italian liqueurs such as Cynar adding complex bitter notes to the likes of a gin fizz.

With this Soho comeback Polpetto’s acquired a bolder, more mature feel – and we think it’s better than ever.

Polpo says
Polpetto is the jewel-box Soho restaurant from Polpo founders Russell Norman and Richard Beatty. It offers sharing plates with Venetian influences, following the traditions of its sister restaurants. Expect to see dishes such as smoked mozzarella croquette, and anchovy and caper pizza.

By: Celia Plender

Posted:

Details

Address: 11 Berwick St
London
W1F 0DR
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Contact:
Opening hours: noon-11pm Mon-Sat; noon-4pm Sun.
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Users say (14)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|14
1 person listening
2 of 2 found helpful

I visited on 1/3/14 and have to say I couldn't have been more disappointed. Following Russel on The Restaurant Man' I had high expectations but was left wondering if his TV commitments had led to him taking his eye off the ball. Warm bottled beer,wine not chilled enough,three wrong courses brought on three separate occasions,one course forgotten about and service so slow we didn't have time to have sweet.

1 of 1 found helpful

The decor reminds me of those wonderful old photos of Paris in the 30's and 40s and the ambience is tangible. The menu is new and exciting and I have to try it all.

tastemaker

Polpetto has friendly service, authentic interiors and a lovely menu. The small plates however can be on the very small side, meaning value for money isn't great. Quite a few of their signature dishes lack depth of flavour and can be a little bland. This restaurant is a little style over substance, but worth a visit for a pizzette & negroni.

tastemaker

What a quaint little restaurant in Soho! Polpetto really reminds me of being in a cosy restaurant in Italy. I loved how welcoming the staff were, especially in seating us by the bar tables first and looking out for a table for my friend and I. They were perfectly capable of serving dinner on these bar tables, which I find great because it doesn't limit what I can order! 


We both decided to share the Grilled Focaccia & Olive Oil as a starter. This was delicious because it was well baked - a golden and crisp crust and a soft and fluffy interior. It also arrived pretty quickly after we ordered, which was great to start the meal off. 


While making our way through the Focaccia, a table opened up so our waiter helped us move over. And just in time for our mains to arrive. We both went for the Crab & Chili Linguine. A personal favourite of mine, I really love pasta made this way. I'm a huge fan of a tomato-based sauce, especially when it's paired with chili and seafood. The linguine was cooked al dente and to perfection! It was a good amount of pasta and I liked that I could see the shreds of crab meat in the dish. 


In terms of the atmosphere, I liked how cosy the restaurant felt. It's not very big, so tables fill up quickly but it's definitely worth the wait for the food. I've tried their other branch at Ape & Bird, which is equally delicious. There are similar dishes on the menu but not everything is the same. I also liked how the restaurant is located in Soho but in one of the back lanes, which is less hectic in the evenings and gives it a nicer feel. 

tastemaker

I came here with 2 other friends a few weeks ago and found it to be very reasonably priced. We all had a lovely cocktail and decided to share a few dishes. Opting for both arancinis, courgette fries, a mozzarella and parma ham pizza and some meatballs, all bursting with flavour! This all came to around £20 each.

Tastemaker

My friend and I ate and drank here last night. We got the £5 drinks as part of the happy hour (4-6pm). The Cynar Gin Fizz was ace- the alcohol blend was subtle and strong- and she enjoyed her Negronis. We got the beetroot aracini which looks like a red energy ball and tastes like corn. I couldn't detect the mozzarella inside but my friend could. Either way it was dense but yet crumbly upon biting in and tasted very good. I also got the shrimp and capers pizzette which is a decent size; thin crust which I liked but such tiny, tiny shrimp dotted atop I was disappointed. The pizza also had a subtle fishy taste which I found odd but maybe bc of the capers? Either way I ate it all! Finally I got the broccoli with feta but this was a disappointment. The broccoli was very bland itself. My friend's zucchini fries though were lovely- crispy with a rich oily flavour.

I might return just for the burrata and cauliflower- not to mention the cocktails! Service was overall very pleasant and somewhat attentive.

tastemaker

Polpetto is a lovely small Italian restaurant, serving delicious Venetian food. Being the small sibling of Polpo, it continues the tradition of serving delicious, fresh and well prepared food. The menu offers a variety of dishes: pasta, meatballs, pizza etc. All the plates are small, ideal for sharing. The crab and chilli linguine is my absolute favorite. If you crave for a desert you will be amazed to find out that they serve a Nutella Pizza. Obviously the menu includes a delicious tiramisu as well.

tastemaker

I went to Polpetto for brunch and it was incredible. Not your typical brunch food, but rather Italian inspired tapas style food. A lovely and cosy place in busy Soho, I will definitely go back to try their dinner menu. 


One word: WAW! My friend and I were searching for a place to eat in Soho and we discovered Polpetto in Berwick Street. It looked quite busy but the interior and atmosphere looked so tempting that we decided to pop in and have a try. What a success! I would recommend Polpetto to everyone and it's the perfect restaurant for any occasion: small staff party, a date, drinks and food with friends/family, etc. 


The staff were all female but above all, every single one of them were so friendly and smiling. Food comes in Venetian styled tapas and is absolutely delicious. Biggest plus of Polpetto is the atmosphere and decoration: it's a fairly small but super cosy place where you can feel the Italian warmth. There is a private area downstairs for +/- a group of 20 people with an open kitchen. One thing: you cannot make a reservation for dinner, so fingers crossed that there is a spot available! 


Love this place. Food is gorgeous and very fairly priced. Staff were super and whole atmosphere just perfect.

Tastemaker

Here's the thing with Polpetto (and Polpo to boot): it might be to do with expectations. Russell Norman's take on a Venetian ciccetti was a concept that was new to London when he opened Polpo but it wasn't entirely unfamiliar in tone: mezze, dim sum, tapas - these are all cousins of ciccetti. Fast-forward to now and small plate dining is everywhere and this sociable and boozing-friendly way of eating has now exploded in popularity. If you come to Polpetto for a hearty Italian meal, you may leave on the slightly empty of belly side (and more so on the wallet front). Polpetto is perfect for a slightly fancier light meal or heavier lunch - order two dishes each and a cocktail and expect to pay around £20 per head. The highlights of the menu are the traditional ciccetti (the chopped liver on toast is particularly delectable) and the salads which are studded with flavoursome gems (the beetroot and goat's cheese may sound unadventurous on the menu but on the plate it's a slick of creamed, salty cheese with slivered beetroot curled into roses nestling atop). Polpetto is the perfect place for a date by the way; the atmospheric gloom of the dining room transports you to another era and city and it's the kind of place that makes you want to order just one more drink and one more plate. 


Dull, basic, overpriced food. The kitchen shows zero ambition. Small and anaemic, the 'pizettes' cost only slightly less than proper Napoli pizzas in nearby Pizza Pilgrims. Swordfish tartare was just an ordinary, fish-less parcel of fine-chopped tomato. Spicy pork and fennel sausages could've come from a can. The only hit was deep-friend squid. But how hard is that? There's nothing here I couldn't make myself. Money is better spent at Copita round the corner. This is dire.  

Tastemaker

I’ve never eaten a starter or main course in this Soho restaurant, but I have returned several times to enjoy dessert because their chocolate flan is possibly one of the best desserts in London!


It’s a bold claim, I know, but the richness of the chocolate combined with the almost sharp tanginess of the accompanying quenelle of creme fresh is just heaven on a spoon! The lovely chap behind the bar (the bar seating is lovely - you get a great view of the restaurant without the formality of restaurant seating!) now knows my boyfriend and me as the two who just come in for pudding, and he rarely has to ask us what it is we want to order. He’s very friendly, and always good for a natter.

Staff Writertastemaker

I had a very different experience to Keith below. Wonderful and attentive service, perfect drinks to start the meal and every course was exicuted perfectly.


The beef ragu is so rich and delicious you almost move in slow-mo to try and make it last as long as possible. 


I thought the prices were really reasonable as the high quality of meat and veg was noticeable in every dish but expect to spend £50-70 for two.




I ate there with a friend in March 2014 and thought that the food (Venetian Italian sharing plates) was good, though the portion sizes were a bit small. The staff was very friendly.

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