Exit South Quay DLR station and almost directly opposite is a passageway running alongside a small dock. Walk down it to the end and turn right onto the main esplanade for about 150 yards; it’s an interesting four minute walk watching the dockside activities and cormorants fishing for their lunch.
And lunch was where we heading that mild autumn day. Lunch at Bella Cosa: an Italian restaurant on the main esplanade, but one with a slightly unusual twist.
The Italian kitchen staff has, at its helm, a Japanese Executive Chef, namely Kentaro Torii, and a Sous Chef, Alessandro Frau, who lists fine dining Japanese restaurants on his CV.
The very talented, charming and unassuming Kentaro has worked and studied extensively in Italy and America, and consequently the cuisine, whilst being gloriously and deliciously Italian, is served with Japanese precision and elegance.
We arrived early and the lovely front of house staff, under the direction of Restaurant Manager, Daniele Lotto, were only too happy to take us round and show off with pride their stylish new restaurant – including the entrance lobby with its living plant wall.
The restaurant is divided into two parts – ground and first floor – both with their own very individual personalities.
The ground floor, with its bar and Chef’s Isle caters for more relaxed, casual dining: pasta, pizza, sharing plates, charcuterie and desserts where diners can watch the chefs at work or gaze out through the windows to the water just a few feet away.
Upstairs, is a fine-dining restaurant with an elegant sitting out area affording even better views of the watery activities of South Dock.
Bella Cosa also has a fascinating Craft beer corner and wine room. The former is specially designed for beer lovers with a wide range of both Italian and local craft beers on offer; whilst the wine room is a wine lover’s idea of heaven with wine from each of Italy’s 21 regions. The wine room also serves as an elegant private dining room.
Menus feature fresh, seasonal produce, with many of the ingredients having PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) status.
Think delicious Italian charcuterie, fresh pasta, black cod, sea urchin, black truffles, and the likes of Double Cooked San Daniele Pork Belly, Salsciccia Tortellini, Wild Mushroom, Jerusalem Artichoke Puree.
This is followed by the house Tiramisu, Ricotta Cheese tart or Vanilla rice pudding with Quince Apple Compote. Our meal not only looked beautiful it tasted fabulous as well.
Bella Cosa, we agreed was special, and mentally awarded it 9.5 out of 10, envying the city workers and dwellers that had it on their doorstep. We very much hope that a West End sister restaurant will soon open so we can more easily pop in for a light lunch, or a self-indulgent exquisitely served fine-dining experience.