What: Joining the likes of Pastaio and Lina Stores, Bancone (which means ‘counter’ in Italian) has established a second London site; this time an orecchiette's throw away from Golden Square in Soho.
Who: Will Ellner, who opened the first Bancone restaurant with hospitality veteran David Ramsay (who continues to be involved in the business) in Covent Garden in 2018. Ellner is now being joined by Bancone’s new culinary director Claudio Melis, who owns his own Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant in Trentino-Alto Adige in Northern Italy. Melis will be responsible for creating seasonal dishes for both restaurants, and training up the kitchen team under the leadership of head chef Stefano Cilia.
The food: As Lina Stores has done with its recent opening in King’s Cross, Bancone has used the launch of a second site to broaden its offering, while retaining all of the dishes that made its first location such a success. As such signature pasta plates, including the silk handkerchiefs with walnut butter and confit egg yolk (£9), and the spicy pork and n’duja ragù with mafalde (£11), continue to feature. New pasta dishes, meanwhile, include a braised venison ragù with rosemary, garlic and pappardelle (£12.50); and a pleasingly unctuous plate of ox cheek ‘mezzaluna’ ravioli, with port butter and chives (£13.50). Two new ‘specials’ also feature, designed to either an accompaniment to the pasta course or served as part of the antipasti. They are crispy suckling pig belly, with apple and hazelnut, pickled mustard seeds and Primitivio (£13.50); and pan-fried stone bass with samphire and sweet and sour beets (£12). A further addition to the antipasti selection is a plate of white crab meat, served with winter melon, grapefruit and salmon caviar (£9).
The vibe: Bancone’s Soho site is noticeably grander than its Covent Garden sibling, with several ‘banconi’ (counters) dotted around the dining room alongside table seating. Set over two floors, there’s space for around 90 covers in total (the original site has about 60), with the downstairs having its own cocktail bar, as well as a private dining with space for between 12 and 16 people. Interiors are smart and modern, with the buzzy mood augmented by a trendy pop soundtrack. The room’s most eye-catching feature, however, is a large olive tree rising from one of the circular counters in the centre of the restaurant.
And another thing: Similarly to Pastaio and Lina Stores, Bancone was born out of a new fresh pasta movement that was inspired by the success of Jordan Frieda and Tim Siadatan’s Borough Market-based Padella. In similar fashion, Frieda and Siadatan are now preparing to open their own second site, with Padella Shoreditch set to launch next month. To read our recent feature on Padella, and how it changed London’s pasta landscape, click here.
8 Lower James St, Soho, London W1F 9EL