So, as you know, I now have a small person occupying my time so I haven’t blogged for a while, but this place is just so damn good I wanted to tell you all about it.
It’s called Al Boccon Di Vino and it’s a tiny little restaurant in Richmond owned by this impossibly cool man who managed to make me giggle like a schoolgirl simply by winking at me:
And run by this fabulous lady who The Chef actually fell in love with, and who walked round all night filling up our wine glasses and offering out limoncello, with words of love and laughter.
Now, I didn’t think London could possibly produce a better fun Italian restaurant than Giuseppes in Borough – I mean, when it comes to atmosphere, Giuseppes always has me up dancing by the end of the night – arms round a group of people I only just met, warbling out old love songs on the microphone and listening to Frank Sinatra while sipping limoncello.
But Al Boccon Di Vino has atmosphere in spades and is the most incredible authentic Italian feast.
First, it has to be said it’s great for Richmond, which I’ve always found disappointing food-wise. Richmond is sooo beautiful – overlooked by the deer of Richmond Park as the sun sets over the Thames that runs through it. It should be filled with fabulous eateries and river-side pubs. And yet it seems more to be filled with Zizzis and Stradas and such like, and a mixture of hooray henrys and wobbling young tykes bound for Be At One.
But this place is an institution. It doesn’t care about money, and as such there is no menu, but you squash in next to your neighbor (who you are likely to get very well acquainted with) and are served a veritable banquet of food, like an Italian wedding feast.
We were there for almost 5 hours!!! And were solidly eating for most of it, although there is a well-timed pause before the mains and after the antipasti. We spent quite a lot of time chatting with our neighbours about this incredible feast which gave the place a real community feel. This is what we ate (or what we remember we ate at least):
Antipasti of lightly tempura’d vegetables
Aubergine with the most delicious mozzarella and parmesan mousse
A plate of prosciutto
2 Types of Scallops
Pasta with wild boar
Mozzarella and tomato ravioli (which The Chef declared to be the best pasta he’d ever tasted, before declaring his undying love for Simona, and ordering a second bottle of wine)
A whole roast suckling pig that was shown to the diners to a great mass of applause, served simply with roast potatoes
Strawberries and pannaccotta
Some other desserts perhaps (neither of us can remember)
Complementary coffee, grappa and limoncello
The meal was fabulous. Fabulous! A real event, a showpiece meal served with a feeling of joy and community. The cooking was fantastic in the most part brilliant. All I would say is that the scallops were perhaps a bit overdone, but the rest of the meal was incredible, and generous in it’s cooking and presentation.
The cost for all this? £40 a head, which is quite ridiculous when you think of the amount of food and the quality of the ingredients. But as they say, they don’t do it for the money.
We went for the house wine (2 bottles given how long we were there and, well, because we don’t get out much) and this was fantastic, particularly the white, and it comes in at £25 per bottle.
I can’t recommend this place enough, although suggest you don’t go as a surprise as you’ll need to set aside tons of time and don’t eat for say a fortnight or so beforehand. Prepare to be full, happy and a little sozzled by the end. It would be a GREAT place for a group for a birthday or similar.