Japanese and Italian are not typically two cuisines you would think of combining. On paper they’re completely different! So I was really intrigued by the menu at Bella Cosa, an Italian restaurant with Italian management, but a Japanese chef! A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to a private dinner at the restaurant to discover how this unique fusion of cultures and food would work.
Bella Cosa is close to Canary Wharf – it’s a 15 minute walk from the main square or you can get the DLR to South Quay which is just 5 minutes away. Immediately I was blown away by the setting. The restaurant is right on the river overlooking the twinkling lights of the city to the left and the spectacular O2 to the right, with many a private yacht dotted in between. We started off the evening with champagne in the lounge area overlooking this view – a number of canapés were served (Cannoli, Ricotta, Walnut & Beetroot powder, Black Ink Chips, Mascarpone, Salmon Roe, and Pane Carasau, Bresaola, Asagio) but unfortunately I was taking photos in the main restaurant and these were all snaffled by my hungry fellow diners before I could try them. Not to worry, there was an extensive menu ahead of us.
Head chef Kentaro Torii has worked in Michelin star restaurants around the world, although his heart belongs to Italy, and he has spent a great deal of time travelling around the country to experience everything the culture and cuisine has to offer.
We were seated in the restaurant’s impressive private dining area surrounded by coolers bursting with a variety of top quality wines.
Food was soon served, starting with our amuse bouche of Scallop, Cannellini puree, Truffle, Lardo, Olive Oil Powder. Although it was a small dish, it had such amazing levels of intricacy and I could easily have eaten more of it for a larger course.
The Second course was probably my favourite of the evening, the ‘Sea Carpaccio’: Thinly Sliced Cured Seafood, Oscietra Caviar, Lemon Puree.
Just look at how beautifully this dish was presented, potentially one of the prettiest and most carefully thought out dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The different types of fish worked well together in terms of taste and texture, with delicious bursts of flavour from the caviar.
The next dish was always going to be a winner for me, 5 Cheese Ravioli Mezzelune with saffron sauce, Iberian pork cheek, beetroot puree and winter black truffle. I mean what’s not to love? Cheese? Tick! Pasta? Tick! Truffle? TICK!
It was really tasty and the filling had a lot of flavour to it – something which is sadly so often missing from the tortellini available to buy from supermarkets. I would just have liked more, but that’s me being greedy!
For main course we had the option of Dover Sole with cauliflower puree, winter vegetables and bergamot coulis or Double-Cooked San Daniele Pork Belly with sausage fagottini, root vegetables and apple. I ordered the latter.
This was also a really enjoyable dish – it felt more simple than the previous dishes but that’s not always a bad thing. The flavours complemented each other and the pork was perfectly cooked. The fagottini packed an extra punch of meaty flavour.
Dessert was White Chocolate, Strawberry and Green Tea- again, another very pretty dish!
I found that when I ate a spoonful of this dessert, it tasted lovely, but all of the flavours seemed to blend in to one. This is a shame when you’ve got such unique ingredient combinations in there. As soon as I realised this, I tried to eat them individually and in this case you could savour the taste of each one.
In addition to all of these dishes, we were served wines to pair with them – whites throughout until a red for the pork dish. The wines were Italian and the waiters were incredibly knowledgeable about each of them, telling the stories of where the vineyards are, and how the wines are produced.
It was a really lovely evening at Bella Cosa – unique dishes and very well executed. I felt that the dishes were perhaps a little small in portion size – I’m used to courses of this size in something like an eight course tasting menu, whereas we were served an amuse bouche and four courses. The menu was put together for our private dining evening so I looked on the website to get an idea of how these dishes would normally be served. Most of them were on the main a la carte menu and they certainly weren’t cheap – for instance, the sea carpaccio is £20 and the ravioli is £19 on the a la carte menu. The restaurant also offers a 7 course tasting menu for £75 per person. It’s therefore the type of place you’d go to for a special occasion and ideally located for business lunches and dinners to impress if you work in the Canary Wharf area.
However what’s also interesting about Bella Cosa is that downstairs they do offer a more relaxed menu at the weekends with brunch, pizzas and so on, with main dishes from £10-15. I’m not sure if they’re trying to cater for too many markets here, but there’s certainly something for everyone.
A big thank you to the team for such an enjoyable evening! You can find out more about Bella Cosa on their website here.
I was invited to review Bella Cosa by Golborne Nash PR and Bella Cosa, but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.