da Polpo

da Polpo is just a little bit less cool than it’s sibling restaurants.  Russell Norman’s first foray outside Soho is located in the more touristy Covent Garden, is easier to get into thanks to the larger space and even the staff seem slightly less cool with a notable absence of tattoos.

The entrance to da Polpo
Just like Polpo and Polpetto wine is served in tumblers, bare light bulbs hang from the roof and brown paper menus serve as placemats. The menu is familiar from the other restaurants as well and again draws inspiration from a Venetian bacaro with small plates designed for sharing.  The difference is the addition of an entire section devoted to meatballs and another to pizzette.  The meatballs were great.  Neatly and densely packed and doused in a rich tomato sauce.  We tried the classic beef and pork (£4.50) but thought the lamb and mint (£5) had the edge thanks to the spot on seasoning.  
Lamb meatballs

The pizzette was also a hit.  As the name suggests it was a mini pizza on a crisp, thin base.  The pork shoulder and pickled pepper version (£6) was a great combination and I liked the charring on the pizza and the addition of pickles to a pizza as well.


Our favourite dish was the most simple.  The heritage tomato salad (£5) featured an assortment of beautifully coloured and varied tomatoes drizzled in lashings of olive oil and a hint of vinegar.  It was pure summery perfection on a plate.

Heritage tomato salad

We also loved the chilli and garlic prawns (£6.50) a favourite from Polpetto with the prawns dripping in hot oil.   The prawns were helpfully shelled and the oil was addictively good.

Chilli and garlic prawns

We weren’t as impressed with the grilled asparagus (£7.50) which were over cooked and topped with buttered eggs  and asparagus.  The eggs were very loose and runny and only accentuated the floppiness of the asparagus.  The potato and parmesan crocchetta (£1.50) also lacked a bit of zing but dished up a good textural contrast with their crisp exterior and creamy filling.

Grilled asparagus

Despite those few tiny faults the food was great and right up there with the Polpo, Polpetto and Spuntino offerings.  da Polpo does lack a bit of the atmosphere of Norman’s other restaurants probably because it is bigger, brighter and lighter.  It is my least favourite of the four restaurants but I still loved it and would be back in a flash.

Details: Da Polpo, 6 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NA (Ph 020 7836 8448) Tube: Embankment.  Bookings taken during the day but not in the evening .
Damage: Reasonable.  We paid £70 between three including a couple of beers each.

If you liked reading this you might be interested in my reviews of Norman’s other restaurants: Polpo, Polpetto and Spuntino.da Polpo on Urbanspoon


  1. Spuntino and Polpetto are still the best by a mile, I think.

  2. I still don’t see the hype about Spuntino except that its definitely different to any other offerings..but the food is by far not as ‘amazing’ as everyone suggests.
    The style is very cool though

  3. I took my parents to da Polpo and my mum gazed wide-eyed at the waitress: “please don’t tell me you’re getting as many tattoos as her…”

    I think it’s natural to have a favourite; Polpetto is mine. The spinach and soft egg pizetta at da Polpo is worth returning for alone, though.

  4. I really want to try one of these restaurants soon – I love tapas-style food but always get put off due to a very pricey past experience.

    Which would you say was your favourite out of the 4?

  5. Don’t think I could chose a favourite btwn Polpo and Sputino. Haven’t tried da Polpo yet but an almost-great offering from RN has to be better than 90% of other restaurants in Covent Garden (Hawksmoor excepted)…

  6. Agreed. My favourite is Spuntino, for the googy egg largely- but the novelty value of getting a table easily shouldn’t be underestimated.

  7. I’ve not yet made it to da Polpo but planning to visit in August – if only to compare it to the others! Anywhere that serves spritz, pizza and meatballs gets a thumbs up in my book 🙂

  8. I’m not that sold on Spuntino either – the place and vibe is very cool, staff etc… but I found all the food a bit too greasy. Polpetto for me!

  9. Always a plus to have somewhere good to eat in Covent Garden. Decor of these places reminds me of so many places in downtown NYC. Whoever invented those exposed old fashioned style light bulbs must be a billionaire by now…

  10. Blonde – Agreed

    Caviar Girl – I loved the food at Spuntino but it is quite different to Norman’s other restaurants I agree

    Lizzie – Oh no I didn’t try that pizzette – return trip clearly needed

    Becassine – I think Polpetto

    Katy – Very good point, as I said it is my least favourite but I still loved it

    Tori – Very true getting a table easily is quite a novelty

    The Little Loaf – It is a great combination

    The Perfect Trough – I love how everyone has a different favourite

    Tasting Pages – Ha ha – good point they seem standard in restaurants now

    A girl has to eat – It is worth a trip

  11. I much prefer the siblings, which I think more charm than da Polpo. It is easier to get a seat at da Polpo, however – so perhaps an easier option for satisfying those meatball cravings.

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