It seems like half of London went to Polpetto for its opening weekend. They had to seat people in shifts with diners eagerly turning up for a 3pm lunch slot or a 6.30pm dinner just to get the chance to be one of the first to try Polpetto out for the barginous price of 50 per cent off. As Polpetto is the little sister restaurant to my restaurant of the year, Polpo, I certainly didn’t want to miss out.

Garlic prawns

Opened just around the corner from Polpo, Polpetto is literally housed in the upstairs room of a pub. The place is tiny, half the size of Polpetto and without the bar area. Our waitress told us Polpetto won’t take bookings for dinner but will take peoples names and mobile numbers so they can have a drink at the pub downstairs while they wait for their table to turn up. Cue gold mine and the sound of cash registers ringing for the downstairs pub. Although smaller, Polpetto has the same look and feel as Polpo with dangling unadorned lightbulbs, a pressed tin roof and brown paper menus that serve as place mats. It has also adopted the same admirable wine pricing system where wine is served by carafes and bottles with no price differential so if you decide to go for one carafe, then just one more and damn you may as well have just got the bottle. Only a handful of wines are on offer but we enjoyed our carafes (ahem!) of very fruit driven and almost spicy Sangiovese (£11 for 500ml).


Chickpea and anchovy crostini

Polpetto offers the same style of food as Polpo, Venetian chicheti, small plates for sharing, but offers a whole new set of dishes. Chilli and garlic prawns (£7) had been helpfully shelled and were swimming merrily in a tomato sauce with a chilli kick so good that MTV boyfriend and I were scooping up the sauce with bread long after the prawns were devoured. Chickpea and anchovy crostini was complimentary and tasted almost like a chunky hommus with the added richness from the anchovies.

Swordfish and dill ricotta (£2.50) was a sliver of almost translucent, shimmering smoked sword fish rolled around creamy and blowsy ricotta. You need to order a few of this one because it is tiny. Osso bucco (£8) was a dish of rustic beauty. A hunk of tender, slow cooked veal hugging the bone on a bed of fantastic saffron infused risotto. I also loved the panzanella (£5) with its jumble of brightly coloured, sweet tomatoes drizzled with oil and crunchy pieces of toasted torn bread.


Osso bucco

From the dessert list the blackberry pannacotta (£6) was creamy and fragrant with the tartness of the blackberries acting as a perfect foil to the sweet, airy pannacotta. Sgroppino (£5.50) was a tiny alcoholic milkshake made with strawberry and lemon sorbet and prosecco. The fizz and lightness from the bubbles made it a fun, almost playful dessert.


Blackberry pannacotta

There was the occasional chink in the armour of Polpo’s perfection, the fig and salami bruschetta (£2.50) was a giant portion of bread but it did not seem to have been toasted and had none of the lovely garlicky flavour you expect from a bruschetta. The heaped salami tended to overwhelm the sweetness of the two small figs. The batter on the soft shell crab (£7) was perhaps a little on the soggy side but I loved the combination of the crab with creamy thinly sliced fennel which added moisture and a hint of aniseed to the crispness of the crab.



It would be hard for any restaurant to live up to the hype surrounding such an opening but Polpetto did. I was pleased Polpetto had its own distinct personality and style rather than just turning Polpo into some mini chain of restaurants. I do probably still prefer Polpo because it is not quite as squashy and has the lovely bar area as well. Still, putting aside the buzz of a new restaurant opening, what stays with you is the atmosphere of good food being enjoyed in a convivial way with a minimum of fuss.

Details: 49 Dean street, Soho W1D 5GB (Ph 020 7734 1969) Tube: Oxford Circus
Damage: Reasonable

If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of Polpo or this recipe for osso bucco which is pretty similar to Polpetto’s version.

Polpetto on Urbanspoon


  1. Lovely photos, GC, and glad to see you enjoyed Polpetto as much as I did. We ha quite a few of the same dishes.

  2. Sounds good. I’m dying to try it.

  3. So disappointed Polpetto doesn’t take bookings bc the only thing that dissuades me from eating at Polpo more often is their no-bookings policy.

    £8 for that osso buco sounds like a steal. Guess I’ll just have to suck it up and join the queue.

  4. I always forget to make panzanella – such an easy and economical dish and wondrously tasty too!

  5. Love Polpo. Will defo try this out…tahnks for the reco! x LondonZest

  6. Excellent photos – weren’t those prawns great? I had serious envy when I saw your salami and fig dish going past, so it was a shame it wasn’t up to scratch. Still, I guess that’s what soft openings are for; they can only get better.

  7. I was there on Saturday and enjoyed the meal without being blown away.

    It’s funny, as I really enjoyed the salami and fig bruschetta, but thought the panzanella was disappointing as there was a lack of bread in ours.

    My fav dish was my far and away the pigeon.

    I’ve never made it to Polpo, but two of my dining companions had and they said they much preferred it to Polpetto.

    I’m sure it will be hugely successfull though and there should be more places serving this sort of affordable but high quality food.

  8. This Osso Bucco looks divine! We visited Polpetto on Saturday afternoon just to say Hi to Russel after a lunch at … Polpo and I can’t wait to go back to try the food this time

  9. Osso Buco looks good- looking forward to trying this

  10. hi cara,
    was nice to see you briefly(!) at polpetto, I wish we’d got the veal but our friends objected. Next time (if I can get a table!)

  11. Greedy Diva – Thanks GD

    A girl has to eat – Since you have just been to Polpo I am sure that will whet your appetite

    American in London – I agree it would be nice if it took bookings as a point of difference to Polpo

    Helen – I agree although I think the quality of the tomatoes is key so only worth making in summer.

    Emily – If you love Polpo you will love Polpetto

    Lizzie – yep the prawns were MTV boyfriends favourite!

    Craig – everyone has their own favourites I suppose which is good to see

    Mathilde – yes you will have to return

    Greasy Spoon -the osso bucco was a highlight for me and a real bargain I thought

    Rumbly in my Tumbly – nice to see you too – the place was packed with bloggers!

  12. Really liked Polpo – so will have to give this a go soon. Great write up GC 🙂

  13. Great photos! Looks like Russell let you set up a photo shoot in the restaurant!

    The combination of Polpetto and The French House is just a great combination. It’s the kind of place that you’d quite happily wait in for a couple of hours.


  14. Dan – yes if you like Polpo you will like Polpetto as well

    Grumbling Gourmet – it does work well for the French House I think. No photo shoot in the restaurant but sitting by the window helps!

  15. Fantastic photos. Super pro. I’m now gagging to pay them a visit…

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