Have you ever seen anyone eat a bowl of pasta whilst looking glum? No, of course you bloody haven’t. It’s the food of sexy, passionate Italians, it’s supposed to be eaten with groups in a buzzy setting, or curled up like a cat on the sofa, under a blanket, devouring each and every strand before licking the bowl clean.
Pasta is happiness – pure and simple. It’s for this reason we’d never last a day on the Atkins diet.
Bancone know this fact, and have kept things very simple They sell pasta, really really great pasta. Unlike Padella, you won’t be made to wait outside in a queue, and you also won’t need to order 3 (ok, four) plates of pasta between two of you. Here, a bowl of pasta will very much sate your hunger. That’s not to say you should skip starters though. The second reason not to go on the Atkins diet would be their honey focaccia, which feels as heavy as a sponge after it has soaked up all the luscious extra-virgin olive oil in Italy. Which it has. Dotted with gorgeous globs of roasted garlic, this was the most sophisticated garlic bread we ever did eat. Peter Kay would be proud. Pretty little aubergine, sundried tomatoes & basil roll ups completed our antipasti.
The wine list is unsurprisingly Italian, so start with a glass of their crystal clear prosecco before moving onto the honey-flecked fiano – available by the carafe if you’re short of time, or the bottle if you’re feeling more leisurely.
I asked the waiter which main I should order – the cacio e pepe or the cod cheek. Without hesitation he wrote down cacio e pepe and there was no more discussion about it. (It’s exactly what I wanted him to say). It’s one of my all-time favourite dishes – so simple in its premise – cheese, pepper – but when done right there’s nothing better. Here they serve it with bucatini which looks like spaghetti but has a little hole running through it for all the creamy sauce to get stuck into. Slurping ecstasy. Elsewhere wriggly ribbons of mafalde caught the rich duck ragu in its grooves. Gluten free pasta is available on request too so no need to leave the coeliacs at home.
We had to rush off so regretfully can’t comment on dessert (Bancone is ideally placed for theatreland) – however expect the likes of chocolate brulee and poached pears with honeycomb. If the pasta is anything to go by, they’ll surely be divine.
The best bit of all, you can easily escape without having to remortgage your house. Hurrah!