Baccalà, really is a gem. First impressions are very unassuming with minimalist décor, allowing the focus to be on the small-plates available from their Piccolo Baccalà concept. The Piccolo Baccalà dishes are simply a paired back version of their a la carte menu, served in the evening. Much like a humble Osteria, this space-savvy concept is a passion project between two couples and most importantly four friends – one of whom is the sommelier and one other the chef.
Neighbouring Borough market was heaving, Padella still, with queues as long as their pappardelle, it was happening – summer had inched just a tad closer and the streets were clad with alfresco diners hoping to “grab a table outside, if you had one”. Thank God, we had booked. If you don’t spend a lot of time on Bermondsey Street, you’re missing out. Especially if you have a penchant for la dolce vita, because offering both wonderful wine and seafood is the speciality at Baccalà.
Fabio de Nicola, aforementioned founder and sommelier arrives with two spritz, refreshingly tart and memory invoking of days along the Amalfi coast. I am told that Piccolo Baccalà is a casual and less formal than their evening experience but there is no substitute on flavour and quality. For example, the sashimi grade, Triple A tuna served simply with radicchio, and balsamic.
Baccalà takes its wine as seriously as it takes its seafood, and if you find yourself stuck, ask for Fabio. Supplied by more than 100 independent Italian producers spread across all 20 regions of Italy, there is truly something for everyone.
Sardinian style bread – Pane Carasau (an Italian flat bread, crisp, cracker-like texture) made from durum and old-grain sourdough were both delicious however their purpose was much fulfilling as vehicle for tasting some exceptional extra virgin olive oils, taken from Baccala’s olive oil tasting menu – available with pairing notes for those looking to branch out, and learn something new.
A glass of Collio bianco, Roncus, paired by Fabio complimented the Devon crab salad and trombetta courgettes. Wonderfully full and rounded in taste with white pepper and grapefruit on the nose, offered a delicate harmony between flavours.
Our Piccolo Baccalà experience continued and the evoo whipped salted cod with polenta was a knockout dish. If like me you googled evoo then let’s keep that between us and just say I want everything evoo’d going forward – it made for an incredibly light texture which juxtaposed the crispy black rice crumb coating. A glass of Vermentino was another star casting from Fabio; mineral fresh, it cut perfectly through the creamy Burrata, and Tuscan tomato bread with precision. Other menu highlights include black baby squid and roasted octopus, with baby potatoes and olives – not to mention a selection of Italy’s finest cheeses from 36 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano to blue Di Pecora.
I’ve never been able to resist a tiramisu, whether from the continent or a restaurant – it just gets me. Cream, chocolate, booze and ladyfingers, perfecto.
A humble tale of grape and sea via Bermondsey, Piccolo Baccalà is accessible and delicious. Don’t settle for a limp salad, meal deal or even a curling sarnie at lunchtime – experience the best taste of Italy without the airport hassles at Baccalà.
To discover more about Piccolo Baccalà, visit: baccalalondon.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of Baccalà.