Perched on the quayside of vibrant Canary Wharf, Bella Cosa is rapidly building a reputation for providing diners with an exceptional culinary experience created by Chef Kentaro Torii. With his sterling reputation, the award-winning Japanese chef has drawn from his vast experience working in top Italian Michelin star restaurants to create a unique menu for the restaurant. Every dish displays the harmonious marriage of the finest authentic Italian ingredients with the precision and style of Japanese presentation.
Restaurant manager Giacomo Marotti, Head Bartender Martina Furiga and Chef Alessandro (an Italian trained in the finest Japanese restaurants complementing Kentaro’s experience) were on hand to provide the highest level of hospitality and service during my dinner at Bella Cosa.
After my tour of the restaurant and a relaxed yet informative chat with Giacomo, I was shown to my table in the fine dining section of Bella Cosa on the upper level. As I settled in, the talented Martina brought over a delicious pre-dinner cocktail containing pink grapefruit juice, guava juice and homemade rosemary infused syrup. The glass was beautifully decorated with orange peel and edible flowers and the non-alcoholic cocktail was an interesting blend of flavours which sharpened the appetite.
To further whet the appetite I was presented with the chef’s take on canapes to nibble on when perusing the menu. The dish truly resembled a work of art with its thoughtful presentation even for something as small as canapes. This set the scene for the evening and clearly demonstrated that Bella Cosa is a restaurant where the food is more important than the ego of the chef. As Giacomo puts it, “The table is the stage, simple and elegant, where the food is allowed to be the star.”
Canapes were Pane Carasau (music bread) topped with crumbled cheese, Gnocchi Fritti and Mussel. It was interesting to see the traditional Sicilian bread served in this way and indicated the level of authenticity.
Giacomo kindly chose a four-course meal for me to sample the delights of the menu focusing on their signature dishes and ones which best demonstrated the skill and artistry of the chefs. My slight intolerance to dairy was noted and the amuse bouche was adapted to suit my dietary requirements. This is something Bella Cosa are happy to do, in recent months they have catered for Muslims with halal food cooked in a separate kitchen and even created bespoke menus for vegans. For me, the regular amuse bouche was swapped for a smaller version of Bella Cosa’s Sea Carpaccio and I was presented with the freshest wafer thin slices of octopus, bottarga, red prawn and mackerel.
As I savoured this special version of their Sea Carpaccio, I admired the glass objet d’art on the table which Giacomo had told me was made from Venetian glass and is used at Bella Cosa as a stylish alternative to flowers on the table. It’s considered touches such as these that make Bella Cosa stand out from the crowd in terms of style, presentation and culinary flair.
It was then time for the starter or the Antipasto in Italian. I was presented with another artistic culinary creation, this time Grilled Octopus Leg served on a beautiful sea green plate with Smoked Potato Mousse, Celery, Chicory, Olives and Trapani Pesto. Not normally one to go for grilled octopus (past horror stories of chewy rubber abound), I let Giacomo persuade me to try this dish after he told me of the careful cooking method used in the kitchen where the octopus leg is grilled until its internal temperature reaches exactly 77°C. Unsurprisingly the octopus was perfectly cooked with a wonderful texture and umami flavour. I loved the combination of texture with the dense meatiness of the octopus juxtaposed with the crisp shavings of vegetables and balanced by the savoury taste of tomato and almonds from the traditional Trapani pesto.
Reminiscent of dinners I’ve had in Southern Italy, I was next presented with the pasta course of my meal or Primo. Giacomo had recommended the Maltagliati with Ox Tail Ragout which sounded delicious but my eyes were drawn to the Tagliolini served with a sauce containing Sea Urchin, Cornish Crab and Mullet Bottarga, the pasta was dressed with Rapini Pesto. This pesto is made with the green vegetable Rapini known as Cime di Rapa in the Puglia region of Italy and is a traditional sauce used mostly in Southern Italian cuisine most famously served with orecchiette pasta. At the table the dish was sprinkled with a delicious savoury crumble.
The meat course was Bella Cosa’s signature dish of Double Cooked San Daniele Pork Belly served with Salsciccia Tortellini, Wild Mushroom and Jerusalem Artichoke Puree. Marinated for 24 hours and then gently cooked using the sous vide method for another 24 hours, the pork was meltingly soft without the sticky fatty texture so often seen in other restaurants.
Here’s another look at this delicious piece of pork belly – the dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Martina came up trumps yet again with a perfectly balanced non-alcoholic cocktail to pair with the richness of the pork. Sharp flavours from cranberry and passion fruit juices combine topped with another traditional Italian ingredient – Sanbitter – which produced the perfect taste to set off the wonderful pork belly. It looked as good as it tasted. Sanbitter is famous in Italy as the go-to non-alcoholic aperitif and its charming little bottle was a regular fixture on Sunday lunch tables across Italy when Giacomo’s generation were kids, according to Bella Cosa’s manager himself.
The distinctive bitter citrus note from the Sanbitter was a prelude for dessert, Clementine Carpaccio served with Prosecco Espuma, Lemon Sorbet, Campari Orange Jelly. Another masterpiece blending culinary skills with precision presentation.
After such an extraordinary delightful dinner where my senses were bombarded with colour, texture and flavour of the delicious dishes, it was time for the last part of the evening where restaurants normally provide coffee and something sweet in the shape of petit fours. Once again, Bella Cosa never failed to disappoint with an inventive selection of small sweet treats in the form of Earl Grey Pannacotta, Dark Chocolate Truffle laced with Cointreau and yet another traditional Italian item – a Baci di Dama sandwich cookie. It seemed only right to order some Darjeeling tea, known as the Champagne of teas, to accompany these delights.
The panna cotta was delicately flavoured with Earl Grey so there was no overpowering bergamot flavours just a delicate hint of smokiness. The dark chocolate had a very high cocoa content all the more pronounced because of its dusting of cocoa powder – a real treat for purist chocolate lovers. For those familiar with Baci di Dama, the Bella Cosa version stays true to the buttery crumbly recipe made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a rich chocolate cream. I can imagine that these would go perfectly with coffee as well as tea.
Bella Cosa is an Italian restaurant that is sure to impress with its inventive and stylish menu taking Italian cuisine to a new exciting level. Giacomo Marotti and his team take great pride in providing friendly flawless service whilst Chef Well worth searching out, we guarantee you will be coming back for more once you sample the culinary delights of this Canary Wharf restaurant.
Drewry House, 213, Marsh Wall, London E14 9FJ0207 132 1212