Over the years Soho has seen wave after wave of Italian restaurants come and go. A few have stuck around with huge success namely Bocca di Lupo and Polpetto but now theres a new kid on the block, in the form of a contemporary north Italian joint. Cue Mele e Pere. Slap-bang in the middle of Brewer Street, with its aesthetically cool design and laid-back vibe, it comes as a breath of fresh air amongst its neighbours.
Intriguingly, at street level, youd be forgiven for thinking it was a quirky antique shop, with its hundreds of Murano glass apples and pears at the windows (from which draws its name, Apples and Pears, in Italian), but once youve headed downstairs past the vintage tiles youll find an intimate contemporary interior. Think part Scandi-chic with its white walls and wooden floors and wall mounted vintage angle poise lamps above each table, with a very New York- style copper-topped vermouth bar in the centre.
Menu-wise, with the roaring success of Michelin-starred Arbutus and Wild Honey tucked firmly under Head Chef Andrea Mantovanis belt, you could say that this recent addition is already destined for great things (not that Andrea is one to rest on his laurels, of course). The menu is slick and has been pared right down to selection of well thought out and complimentary dishes, along with a very well-matched wine list (the mellow Madregale Abruzzo red was a clear winner).
To dispel any kind of food envy, starters can be shared. On ELLEuks visit we opted for the traditional dry cured salami, melt-in-your-mouth rabbit bruschetta and Ascolana olives, which came warm, lightly breaded and stuffed with pork and tiny sausages (that alone could warrant a trip back) all served up on dark wood chopping boards. Theres also hand-chopped veal with extra virgin olive oil and snails, pecorino and parsley.
In traditional north Italian style, next up is the pasta dish. We went for a vegetarian artichoke risotto, which was subtly flavoured with wild mint and was creamy rich without being too filling, although could have done with a few more flavours. It did leave plenty of room, however for the carb-free mains, notably the charcoal-grilled shoulder of lamb that was so tender it literally fell apart. The roasted cod with fennel was cooked equally to perfection, with white flakes of fish accompanied by a slightly bitter Swiss chard. With our savoury tooth sated we moved on to the dessert menu, and couldnt resist Nonnas apple and lightly spiced cinnamon tart which was warm and flaky with a velvety yogurt ice cream to accompany it. A menu this good needs no selling but the staff genuinely love the place and everything they dish up. While having just opened their doors, for our visit things were pretty quiet, but were guessing this is not a place thatll stay secret for long...
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Italian
Good for: Quick bite after work; special occasion; romantic; work dinner
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Prices & Other Details at Mele e Pere
Address: 46 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 9TF
Price per person for two-course meal without wine: £30
Bottle of house wine: £18 for 750ml carafe
Glass of house wine: £4.50
Bottle of house champagne: £39.50
Glass of house champagne: £9.50
Private dining? No
Outdoor dining? No
Bar? Yes. Theres a New-York style bar in the centre thats perfect for a pre or post-dinner pear bellini
Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road