New? Vico itself opened in August 2015 and then not long after underwent a transformation from a more casual counter, no bookings experience to its current offering – as they say ‘it’s only failure if you give up then, otherwise it’s just experience’ (might have taken that line of wisdom from Julien Baptiste in The Missing…)
Where? It’s just across from the Palace Theatre the home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which it’s bound to be benefitting from) at One Cambridge Circus, Seven Dials, WC2H 8PA, www.eatvico.com
On the Menu: The menu is typically Italian – comforting and hearty and lots of it. There are plenty of thin, crispy pizzas piled high with fresh toppings; a succinct pasta section with the likes of oxtail ravioli with celery, cocoa powder and pine nuts and secondi dishes such as grilled fillet of red mullet with squid, roasted datterino, puntarelle and lemon. If you’re heading to see Harry Potter then they also have a pre and post theatre menu which includes two courses for £16 and three courses for £20 – great value even before you take into account its central location. For pudding there are the likes of Tiramisu, sundaes and ricotta and pear cake or go for the limited edition Panettone and Gelato Winter Warmer Bar menu – read more about it here.
First Impressions: It’s the run up to Christmas and being located on Shaftesbury Avenue, we weren’t surprised to find that on a Tuesday evening every table was full and continued to be so throughout the evening – it had a busy, fun atmosphere. It was also surprisingly dark inside, despite large windows and pendant lighting across the ceiling, this just gave it a cosier, more intimate feeling and there were certainly a Christmas date or two going on.
The Look: Phrases such as ‘indoor piazza’ have been used to describe Vico and the indoor fountain, string lighting and concrete floor hint at this – but if we hadn’t been told, it wouldn’t have been apparent. Splashes of vibrant yellow line the bar and currently the ceiling is covered in white snowflakes – it’s relaxed and informal, but unlike its first phase it now features tables and gone is the counter service.
What We Ate: We started with a smooth, creamy ball of burrata which was accompanied by jewels of pomegranate, hazelnuts and crunchy radicchio. The result was a wonderful combination of flavours and textures, nutty, sweet, and rich and then the spice and bitterness of the radicchio cutting through it all. Fritto Misto Di Mare was made up of prawns, calamari, rosemary and orange – the paper cone it arrived in was a little gimmicky but the prawns were good, so was the calamari – with a light, crisp batter.
Wild boar ragu is a favourite of mine (the bar set at Theo Randall at the InterContinental), if it’s on the menu then chances are I’ll have to order it and I’m glad I did at Vico. Thick strands of papparedelle which have just enough amount of al dente bite were covered in a woody, rich, chunky wild boar ragu and a generous helping of parmesan; it’s a classic and here it’s done well. We also recommend the linguine with plenty of clams, white wine, garlic, pine nuts and the warmth of chilli.
We managed to find room for the panettone and gelato winter warmer menu and we suggest you do the same. Go for the Panettone with Gelato if you want to be able to try the gelato from Gelupo which has a counter at the front of the restaurant. A mini panettone is hollowed out and filled with a scoop of gelato and a second sits beside it, hazelnut and pistachio are good choices. For something more decadent then the Drunk Panettone would be an excellent option. A mini panettone is split in half, with one side steeped in Vin Santo, a sweet desert wine traditional in Tuscany and the other side in passito – a lighter, more subtle wine. Both sides were then crowned with a tower of whipped cream and candied orange. Boozy, fruity and with the Christmas spice, a thing of wonder.
What We Drank: The wine list focuse on wines from southern Italy: Puglia, Sardinia, Campania and Umbria, but there are also wines from the rest of the country and spritz which go beyond the Aperol spritz incluing Hugo and Amalfi spritz. Starting with a glass of Prosecco we then moved on to a red wine from Puglia – Tufarello, Nero di Troia Vigneti Canosini.
Go With: Delete as applicable: date/friends/parents/colleagues/fans of Italian cuisine. Basically it can work to any occasion – well, most that you’re going to face.
Final Word: Well priced, friendly staff and good food – Vico is worth a visit. If you’re just dropping past then make sure you pick up some gelato at Gelupo which is just in the entrance to Vico – some of the best gelato in London.