As many of you know, I have spent the last year and a bit overseas in London, England, starting my career as a teacher. The school-year works differently to that I am used to back home, and instead of a long summer break, we get only six weeks off in July and August, with one or two week breaks scattered throughout the rest of the year. It was during one of those one-week breaks that I was lucky enough to get a visit from my mother!
During the much-anticipated trip, we were lucky enough to dine at a brand-new Italian restaurant in London’s Canary Wharf, Bella Cosa.
The first thing that struck me was the absolutely gorgeous location. As a local, it still never manages to amaze me how beautiful parts of London can be – the mixture of the old and the new – and this location on the South Quay of Canary Wharf didn’t disappoint.
Even at night, when we visited, the quay was lit up, accenting the stunning city scape. The architectural design of Bella Cosa was clearly made with a mind to enjoying the natural atmosphere of the location, with the glassed-in seating area pictured above being one of our particular favourites in the immaculately decorated establishment.
Beyond the gorgeous location or the attention to detail in its decorations, what really makes Bella Cosa unique is the way in which they approach their menu. I was amazed to hear that the traditional Italian cuisine is prepared with a touch of Japanese flair. Executive Chef Kentaro Torii and his Italian kitchen staff create modern and beautifully crafted dishes with the fresh ingredients and warm comfort of traditional Italian cooking, adding in a fresh, modern approach, and finishing off with an accent of Japanese flavours and precision. We knew immediately that we were in for a good night and a wonderful meal.
What also really appealed to me was the actual layout of the restaurant. Bella Cosa has two storeys – the ground floor, focussing on comfort food and a good time, and the second floor providing what the restaurant manager, Daniele, described as “casual fine dining.” Each floor’s design accentuates its purpose, with the ground floor centring on their Chef’s isle. When I return in the near future, I look forward to pulling up a bar stool and having a front-row seat to the preparation of the amazing antipasti, charcuterie and pizzas on offer.
The second floor seating plan provides for a more intimate dining experience. These sophisticated yet modern table settings are alongside their specialty rooms: on one side, their Artisan Beer Corner and on the other, their Wine Room. Both feature carefully selected Italian beverages sure to entice those with any variety of palates. These specialty rooms can be booked out for special occasions – in fact, the day after we dined there I heard of a co-worker who had gotten engaged, and immediately recommended Bella Cosa’s wine room for their engagement party!
The courteous and accommodating staff at Bella Cosa were all extremely friendly, providing quick and efficient service with a smile. Once we were given a tour and shown our seats on the upper floor, we were treated to a delicious and absolutely filling exclusive tasting menu, exhibiting the best that Bella Cosa’s a la carte menu has to offer.
We were presented with dish after dish of exquisite design and proportion, each showing perfect attention to both presentation and taste. Everything at Bella Cosa is prepared with fresh and seasonal produce imported from Italy, giving every mouthful that taste of perfection.
I must admit, I am not normally a fish eater. The flavour and texture of seafood dishes is not something I typically enjoy. However, at Bella Cosa, that was not the case! During the absolute marathon of food we were treated to, I enjoyed both the sea carpaccio as well as their black cod in prosciutto, served with baby cuttlefish in black ink, polenta and radicchio. The delicate flavours, combined with the absolute precision of technique and balance of textures absolutely blew my socks off. While I could not finish everything on every single plate put in front of me, let me assure you that anything left behind was purely due to the fullness of my stomach and not anything lacking in the dish itself.
It is difficult to pick any single favourite dish from our experience – I would readily recommend anything and everything I was served, and want to try at least a dozen more dishes – but if absolutely forced, it would still be a tie between the five-cheese ravioli and the pork belly. The ravioli was served with scrumptious suckling pig cheek, saffron sauce, beetroot and black truffles, giving an interesting and unique blend of flavours and textures that cannot be missed. It was still, however, heart-breaking that I was so full from the ravioli and everything that had come before that I was unable to finish the double cooked San Daniele pork belly, served with Salsciccia tortellini, wild mushroom and Jerusalem artichoke puree. The pork belly was so tender, so finely cooked, that it absolutely melted in your mouth. I’m only exaggerating a little when I say that I nearly wept when my stomach just could not find room so I could finish it all.
I must also mention the dessert – while everything we ate was absolutely magnificent, I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, and the pina colada dessert we were served was another absolute standout. It was a sort of deconstructed take on the traditional flavours, offering gelatin pineapple strips, meringue wafer chips, coconut flakes and delicious panna cotta to round things out. I would visit this restaurant again just for that dessert, it was that good (though of course while I was there, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to try some of my other favourites again).
All in all, it was a magnificent evening with beautiful surroundings, lovely staff and outrageously delicious food. I absolutely cannot wait to visit again.
Bella Cosa is open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, providing a versatile space for business lunches and dinners, aperitif gatherings, or dining with friends. The restaurant is located on the South Quay of Canary Wharf, a couple of minutes’ walk from South Quay DLR Station. I highly recommend this restaurant.
Food – 5 out of 5 stars
Service – 5 out of 5 stars
Bella Cosa, South Quay, Drewry House, Marsh Wall, London E14 9FJ Tel: 020 7132 1212