The original Bancone, situated on William IV street was such a hit with customers and industry folk alike (picking up both ‘Best Cheap Eats’ at the Harden’s Restaurant Awards 2019 AND winning a Michelin Bib Gourmand) that they’ve taken the plunge and opened a second site, just off Soho’s Golden Square. Hurrah!
The new space is a total dreamboat. The first one was quite a looker to be fair, however with its long, thin dining room, it’s fair to say it slightly resembled a corridor.
The Soho spot has tons more space – 4000 square feet to be exact, with counter seating and a big basement complete with cocktail bar and private dining. There’s an open plan kitchen where you can watch all the action happen and lovely stools at the window – perfect for people watching but also where they roll out their pasta. The stand-out feature though is undoubtedly the beautiful olive tree!
The menu still has all the classics – including their signature silk handkerchiefs with walnut butter and confit egg yolk (we reckon they’d be a riot if they took it off) as well as a new specials section. Here you’ll find the likes of suckling pig or the night we dined, pan-fried stone bass served with samphire and beetroot.
Starters are strong but we’d particularly recommend kicking off with the gorgonzola filled fried polenta, a little ball-shaped structure similar to a croquette which sat on wilted leeks, coppa and nutmeg. Burrata is always a good idea, here served with pink bitter radicchio tardive and soft cubes of squash – although it could have been a touch creamier. Thick slabs of subtly honeyed focaccia are a must-order with that, studded with big globs of roasted garlic.
Unlike other pasta joints in town, portions at Bancone are very much big enough to have one as your main. There’s no need to order three plates between two people, although obviously we did, because how else were we to fit in the spicy pork & nduja ragu with wavy ribbons of mafalde, squid ink tagliolini with confit tomato, lashings of garlic, chilli and theatrical bonito flakes that arrive at the table waving at you, alongside the aforementioned creamy handkerchiefs.
For dessert, a beautifully presented plate of sliced pears poached in red wine was suitably festive and powerfully boozy, served with a delicate scoop of yoghurt foam and a slab of honeycomb which we got all over the table when trying to smash it up.
Will Ellner, founder of Bancone, is thrilled with the location of the new site and of Claudio’s arrival, saying, “It’s every restaurateur’s dream to open a restaurant in one of the buzziest areas of London. We cannot wait to bring our beautiful pasta to new audiences. With Claudio boosting the team we’re in a really strong position to enjoy a successful foray into London’s restaurant heartland.”