Friday, 23 December 2011

Restaurant Review: Bunga Bunga

Of all the year's openings, one that's made the biggest impression is the wonderfully wacky Bunga Bunga. I find out if it's faring better than the Euro in this review for South London Press.

Berlusconi is gone, the Euro is in peril, and David Cameron is ensuring that the UK is increasingly distant from its mainland brethren. But that’s just politics. In Battersea, Berlusconi still reigns supreme and Europe takes centre stage thanks to the presence of the Eurotrashiest restaurant in town – Bunga Bunga.

From walls covered with photos of the Italian ex-Prime Minster to sexy pictures paying homage to his notorious parties which have leant the venue its name, just about the only thing that isn’t packed in is some subtlety.

Our Italian waiter is so enthusiastically friendly and over-the-top in that stereotypical Italian way that we suspect he may moonlight as a Eurovision act, but he’s perfect for the job. From entrance to service, through the dining room to the themed Eurovision party space upstairs, it’s all about the fun.

In fact, it’s all so much fun that it’s not until starters arrive at our table, that any real thought has been given to the food, instead plumping to go with a selection of antipasti style dishes as chosen by our waiter.

And quite a selection it is. Crumbly, deep-fried polenta chips which pack a powerful salty hit and a tang of rosemary sit alongside some first rate burrata, a kind of soft mozzarella which boasts an unctuously gooey centre. Bruschetta topped with nudja, a spreadable sausage with flavours similar to chorizo, excite the palate with a gentle spice, and discs of cured wild boar salami excrete deliciously meaty juices when chewed.This is food that outweighs the Bunga Bunga gimmick.

A well-made classic Negroni apperitivo, plus a lavender infused twist on the same drink, demonstrate an apt balancing of flavours and show off the barman’s prowess. And this is all before the obligatory main course pizzas. Starting at just £6.50 for one of their sourdough based beauties; they’re a popular pick-me-up for anyone in the area. The cheesy in name and nature ‘Julius Cheeser’ includes generous quantities of Gorgonzola, Taleggio, Mozzarella and Goat’s Cheese, and is a fine specimen that could give any pizzeria a run for its money. Off-the-wall toppings such as slices of orange on other varieties fall into the ‘bit too much’ category, but if anywhere can be forgiven for being a bit over the top, it’s surely Bunga Bunga. Wonder what Silvio would make of it...

Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Road, SW11 3BA

>> originally published in South London Press

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