db Eats: Vico

For out-of-towners on their way to a watch Harry Potter, or ingenue couples in search of a civilised setting for a smooch, Vico on Cambridge Circus has got you covered.

Jacob Kenedy’s Vico at 1 Cambridge Circus

The concept: Seasonal southern Italian street food. Launched by Jacob Kenedy of Bocca di Lupo, a stone’s throw away in Soho, Vico opened in summer 2015 as an ‘intensely casual’ eaterie which eschewed cutlery, offered food by the 100g portion and was explicitly designed to be a place one went to en route to somewhere else. It closed pretty rapidly when they realised the formula wasn’t working and has since reopened – gone the sparsely arranged Ikea-coloured stools and standing around, in their place cushioned, tan leather chairs, soft lighting and a more cosy restaurant ambience.

The décor: It’s outdoors indoors. Vico offers fast food in a bustling trattoria setting (more demure in the evenings). It’s actually designed to look like a street, or piazza, complete with a working fountain, street lamps, lightbulb bunting, and a ‘branch’ of Jacob Kenedy’s award-winning gelateria and deli, Gelupo, at one end.

The food: Sample appetite-stirring snackettas of lasagnacino – lasagna in an arancini-style balls, deepfried – or actual arancini with porcini mushroom, then choose from starters including an excellent fritto misto di mare with squid, prawns, rosemary and orange (£12) or gooey burrata with figs, Parma ham and carta di musica (crispy unleavened bread).

A simple mains menu of pastas, pizzas is complemented by some tasty little skewers (13 of them) – the tender chargrilled swordfish with sweet datterino tomatoes, raw onions and capers is a winner, so too the fried rabbit (cooked on the bone) with fennel, thyme and lemon zest. It’s basically finger food but that’s generally what you want when it’s curtain-up in 15 minutes or you’ve got some post-adolescent wooing to do.

Pizza Romana Marinara

You want a pizza this? Course you do

Pizzas, from the £12 Margherita to the £16 Cruda (good ingredients though quite pricey for a very thin bread base and a couple of raw ingredients) are reliable. Novel riffs such as cod pizza and Halloween pizza (the latter with pumpkin, guanciale (pork cheek salami) and sage may appal or delight as a concept, but will satisfy for taste.

If you have the time, you can indugle your inner greedy little child and choose from a huge range of Gelupo gelatos (blood orange? ricotta sour cherry? Horlicks?) or some mountainous, Augustus Gloop-style sundaes.

There’s also an option of the ‘Appian Way’ lunch, pre and post-theatre menu – two courses for a reasonable £16.

The drinks: Almost all Italian wines and the bulk of it from the south – so expect to see plenty from Umbria, Campania, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. Nice by-the-glass options include a musky but fresh Curatolo Arini Zibibbo (£7) and a Terrazze Dell’Etna Nerello Mascalese from the volcanic slopes of Etna.

Classic cocktails and classic cocktail twists, plus plenty of spritzes, from the ubiquitous Aperol to Campari to Blood Orange are available, while if your on dessert, the delicious Marsala or, better still, the Bukkuram Passito di Pantelleria, from Marco de Bartoli shouldn’t be missed.

Signature dish: They may be bitesized but Vico’s lasagnacino balls are a delicious little innovation and are highly addictive.

Don’t leave without: Trying a scoop or four of that excellent Gelupo gelato.

Vico, 1, Cambridge Circus, Seven Dials, London WC2H 8PA

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