Food & Drink

The Italian Series

Recent discovery: BOTTLES

By Cheryl Caira

Images: Massimo Rumi

Spitalfields Market and the crowd-filled area around London’s Liverpool Street can be an overwhelming prospect at times when it comes to selecting a restaurant, so we’ll make things a little bit easier for you. With the nights drawing in and winter approaching, a warm haven for sampling Italian food and wine is definitely an enticing prospect. Time to get yourself acquainted with BOTTLES, then – a recent East London opening and superb collaboration with a quality wine list that’s also matched by tasty and creative food: a balance that not all wine bars manage to achieve.

Let’s start with the wines. There’s a diverse selection of over 180 labels, with a focus on top-notch varieties made by independent producers and small farms. Carefully selected by the co-founders of Bottles & Battles in Mercato Metropolitano, Franco Mancini and Daniele Marano, the result is expertly Italian-orientated (every member of staff is also a sommelier, so they know their stuff) with international options to sample too.So you’re covered for wine you know won’t disappoint – now on to the food, cooked up by SOOD Family, an Italian pop-up restaurant concept that began in Hackney, the area of much dining innovation. The brainchild of Michele Pompili and Carlo Deho, the idea was to use authentic and seasonal Italian ingredients in inventive ways, with each dish at BOTTLES matching a specific wine from each region. The menu features creations including peppery rice balls with pecorino & mozzarella; creamy burrata in tomato elixir; handmade spaghetti all’ amatriciana with guanciale, an Italian dry-aged bacon; thinly sliced seabass with spicy melon sauce, and an apricot and Caprino cheese tirimasu.

The feel is high end but relaxed, with statement brass lighting, gold & blue velvet decor and crate displays– you can nip in and sit down at the large communal tables for a post-work wine, snack on a few small plates or have the full dining experience. There’s a handy outdoor terrace (with heaters, never fear) leading out onto the market, with a buzzy first floor space with a mozzarella bar, and a more intimate floor beneath for a dating hideaway or cosy chat over vino.