81 Wapping High Street, E1W 2YG | 020 7481 9950 | ingested Fri 29th January
If there is one reason worth venturing out to the cobble-stoned roads of isolated Wapping, its this bustling, boisterous neighborhood trattoria. Bordello is Italian comfort food at its very best – fresh ingredients, simply cooked, and ginormous portions.
Literally meaning “brothel” in Italian, certain elements of Bordello’s deco stay true to its name. The brown leather chairs with their hour-glass shape and lacy straps look rather playfully like corsets. The white walls are sprawled with numerous Lempicka art deco canvases of semi-nude women. But despite the naughty allusions, there’s something incredibly comfortable and cozy about the place. Maybe its the smiles of Bordello’s regulars, greeted like old friends as they walk through the doors… Or the loyal troop of ageing, grey-haired waiters, all of whom look way past their sixties, but still full of witty exchanges and sarcastic banter as they serve up some of the capital’s finest pastas and pizzas…And of course, the very heart-warming spicy tomato juice, spiked with just the right amount of Tabasco.
The menu here is extensive and you will be able to find every Italian classic under the sun from Spaghetti Vongole and Pizza Carpriciossa to more sophisticated dishes like Linguine with Sea Scallops or Crab Ravioli (which is very very good). Main courses are about £10-£15, with some of the more elaborate dishes goint up to 20 quid at most. But very seldom do I even get to open the menu when dining here. Bordello’s daily specials which are chalked up rustically on blackboards usually get the better of me.
The Lobster Aurora (a black board special on weekends) is to die for. Cleverly wrapped in foil the shape of a Lobster tail, its served up piping hot, straight from the oven. Just look at the size of the beauty sitting on a bed of very tasty seafood linguine! Its hard not to wet oneself from drooling. For our other main course, we decided to be adventurous and stray from our usual staples of Tagliatelle Special (a fully loaded langoustine, scallop, prawn and shellfish pasta) and Pizza Il Bordello (with Parma Ham, artichokes, peppers) and try something new from the board – Ossobucco. Slow-cooked to tenderness in a rich tomato sauce and served on a bed of saffron-flavoured rice, it’s wonderfully meaty and comforting. The pièce de resistance of any Ossobucco is of course the bone marrow sitting pretty in the centre of the veal shank bone– a beautifully rich, gooey explosion of carnivourous flavour. Yummy.
Be sure to save some space in your tummies… Skip on starters and doggy bag some of the enormous mains for tomorrow’s lunch if you must. Just don’t be foolish enough to miss out on the Tiramisu here. I’m telling you, its truly quite sensational. A perfect balance of mascarpone, espresso and booze and topped liberally with chocolate sauce and cream. As with the generously sized mains, one portion is usually enough to feed two.
Happy Days. Just remember to book ahead though – it gets incredibly busy during weekends with tables for walk-in only freeing up at 930pm onwards.