The weather outside might be crisp and cool, but if you want to transport yourself to the Adriatic sea head over to Baccalà in Bermondsey, a family-run restaurant by two couples that specialises in great seafood and wine…
The Italian restaurant, which is family-run by two couples and headed by chef Moreno Polverini and sommelier Fabio de Nicola, had the unfortunate luck to open a few months before the first national lockdown and just as they were earning a spot as a favourite among locals.
The locals have returned and stayed loyal, with a former resident who sat next to me telling me she comes back there whenever she’s in town, despite moving to Rye over lockdown.
The restaurant is named after the famous Italian salt cod dish and a solid example of that is on display in a version whipped up with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
The salt bomb of the cod is balanced nicely with borlotti beans, mussels and puntarelle.
The restaurant boasts a serious wine menu spanning all twenty regions of Italy as well as an EVOO tasting menu.
The olive oils range wildly in colour and flavour and are best mopped up with their terrific sourdough bread.
This is not the sourdough you attempted to make during lockdown to impress your friends.
Instead this is a strong reminder of why these things are best left to the professionals.
While the dishes stay true to the chef’s home in Fermo, in central Italy off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, they’re expertly done using seasonal ingredients.
The best example of that is in a dish with smoked salmon and Devon crabs.
This exquisite seafood pairing is finished off nicely with a green tomato jam.
If you’re after something even more luxurious, there is a spaghetti dish with sea urchin layered throughout to create a rich sauce with the brininess of the sea.
There is also a charcoal roasted cuttlefish seasoned with parsley and EVOO which is balanced with a crisp radicchio.
On top of the radicchio is drizzled bagna cauda, a hot gravy made from garlic and anchovies which gives the dish a nice finishing touch.
There is a good selection of wines by the glass ranging from £4.50 to £10 and an expansive bottle list, selected primarily from small, independent Italian producers.
The restaurant is a family affair with de Nicola’s wife Ilanit Ovadya designing and Polverini’s wife Elif Taner Polverini overseeing the hospitality side.
The ground floor restaurant, as well as the basement which overlooks the open kitchen, has a buzzy atmosphere but not too loud so you can’t hear your date.
There is also dedicated oyster menu as well as a Fisherman’s Lunch, served up every Saturday showcasing the best seafood available on the market that day, paired with a beer from Cornish brewery St. Austell.
For authentic Italian seafood and wine, the restaurant is one not to be missed.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-10pm; lunch sitting: 12pm-3pm; dinner sitting: 5.30pm-9pm; Open for Oyster Aperitivo Wednesday-Friday 12pm-6pm
Address: Unit B3 194-204 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ