London is not lacking on the Italian food front. Separate from the pizza, pasta and ice cream traders that have taken over the country (and, dare say, the world), the UK’s capital has over 2000 restaurants dedicated to Italian cuisine alone.
And Bocconcino, it seems, has quietly risen through the ranks.
First opened in 2014 under the leadership of executive chef Marco Corsica, Bocconcino Mayfair set its sights on taking Italian food to new heights. Over two floors (connected by a grand wrought-iron staircase), the restaurant took things more seriously—and stylishly—than the average.
“Throughout the years we developed a more refined menu using the best produce to showcase some of the finest Italian cuisine has to offer in London,” says Corsica.
Before Bocconcino, the proud Napolitano trained in local restaurants and moved to London for stints at Daphne’s and Cecconi’s before spending nine years under the wing of iconic chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White.
The restaurant’s concept was inspired by the first Bocconcino in the coastal town of Forte dei Marmi—a hidden gem in northern Tuscany which puts authentic Italian food first, focusing on the best ingredients, following the seasons and the bountiful offerings of the nearby sea.
“This is why rich seafood is one of our menu highlights. My youth spent in Napoli and traveling across Italy to gain more experience and knowledge is what drives the menu today,” says Corsica.
From day one, Bocconcino’s signature dish has been Tagliatelle with Wild Boar Ragu—a classic of Tuscan cuisine. “It’s not easily recreated at home, so it makes it that little bit more special and indulgent.
“Another of our signature dishes is the Seafood Risotto, mirroring the iconic coastal cuisine of Italy. We focus on fine ingredients and skills in the kitchen, because even what seems like a simple dish is not always easy to make perfect!”
After announcing that they would be opening a new restaurant on The Strand in 2024, Bocconcino surprised patrons by soft-launching Bocconcino Soho last week—a gorgeous new restaurant in the site formerly occupied by Manteca.
“It has the same menu and values at its core but tailored for a new location, with cicchetti dishes—Venetian inspired small dishes specially designed for sharing—which is a style new to Bocconcino,” says Corsica. “I’m so excited for the opening, led by wonderful head chef Simone Serafini.”
Serafin, too, spent time at Mayfair’s Venetian-inspired Cecconi’s, as well as private members’ club 5 Hertford Street.
Food-wise, the growing chain’s fresh pasta is always going to be my personal recommendation, but fans of unique Italian specialities like baked courgette flowers filled with ricotta won’t be disappointed.
Roman-style pizzas are also made to order, including Bocconcino’s hot and spicy Diavola and the iconic Burrata pizza.
The six-month barrel-aged Negroni is also a must.
Maintaining a balance between traditional Italian flavors and contemporary diner demands is important to Corsica, but he still tries to include lesser-known ingredients and dishes where he can.
“Pacchero is a shape of pasta from near Naples which is very popular in Italy but interestingly not so much in the UK,” he says. “It stays very al dente, but it is definitely one of the top pasta shapes to use in seafood dishes and a less well-known gem I’m fond of.
“Italian cuisine is complex and varied—Naples is different to Turin to Rome to Bologna—and we try to represent that, respecting the history but also remembering who our clients are.”
That commitment to clientele has been imperative to Bocconcino’s success. With quality, authenticity and almost ten years of reliability, the growing restaurant group is starting to become an institution in London’s Italian culinary landscape.
One can’t help but feel that these won’t be the last Bocconcino restaurants to grace our city in the coming years
If you visit Bocconcino Soho from now until the 20th of September (ahead of its main launch on the 21st, the restaurant is offering 50% off food.