Have you ever tried Russian pizza? If not, grab a few friends and pay a visit to the newly-opened Mayfair branch of the renowned Moscow pizza chain Bocconcino Pizzeria. There, you can dig in to one of 30 different pies and see if it’s worth the hype (spoiler: it is). ‘Bocconcino’ – what Italians call a small mozzarella cheese – is a fitting name, when you consider what makes this newcomer stand out from its more established peers: the glorious, high-quality cheeses they use in every pizza. When combined with flavorful sauces and perfectly-charred crusts from the authentic wood-fired oven, the result is nothing less than magical.
As you and your buddies step through the restaurant’s imposing entrance, you’ll be struck by its spaciousness. For all the high ceilings, large windows, and the cast-iron and glass spiral staircase, you could be in Shoreditch. However, the warm lighting and soft cream armchairs exude a relaxed vibe, reminding you that you’re in a restaurant, not a country club — and the cheerful greetings from the staff only enhance that friendly atmostphere.
You’ll want to dive right into the huge food menu, but first, detour to the all-Italian wine list. You’ll find offerings from well-known vineyards, but there are also special selections from smaller, artisan producers. Go for a montepulciano; it’s smooth, fruity, and perfect with pizza. Or ask the staff to make you up a classic Italian cocktail – a negroni, perhaps?
With the wine all settled, dig into the food selections, inspired by restaurant owner Mikhail Gokhner’s time in Tuscany. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the antipasti alone. Try the tuna carpaccio – elegantly thin slices of raw tuna served with rocket and a squeeze of lemon – perfect for cleansing the palate. For your first course, opt for the rich and salty squid ink spaghetti with calamari and bottarga. But be sure to steal some of your friend’s seafood linguine, which is lighter and more delicate, but still richly flavourful. Close your eyes and you could be in a seaside town in Northern Tuscany.
Now for the main event: Choosing your pizza. All are huge, doughy, and cooked in the massive wood-fired oven on the ground floor by a team of skilled pizzaiolos. Best of all is the signature pizza, Pizza Bocconcino, which has stracchino (a mild Italian cow’s-milk cheese with a soft, creamy texture), mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and Parma ham. When it approaches your table, you’ll be overwhelmed by the smell of cheese and rich tomato sauce. The delectable layer of cheese is indeed generous but not overwhelming; combined with the crispy crust and in harmony with the toppings, it might be the best slice you’ve ever had. Certainly, there’ll be no unwanted crusts on your plate at the end of the meal. Bellissima.