BungaTINI, located on Drury Lane in the heart of Covent Garden, is the latest concept by Inception Group, one of London’s most innovative and talented hospitality groups. The creative company owns operates the likes of Cahoots, a 1940’s underground-themed bar in Soho, Barts, Chelsea’s Prohibition Era drinking den, Maggie’s, a super fun 1980s bar, Beaver Lodge, an American themed bar based on the log cabins in Wyoming, Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, based on Jules Verne’s famous novel Around the World in 80 Days, Mr Fogg’s Tavern and Gin Parlour in Covent Garden and the famed Bunga Bunga, Battersea’s most tongue-in-cheek bar, pizzeria and karaoke joint. I used to do the PR for Inception Group and many of these are my favourite bars in London, so when I was invited in to check out the new BungaTINI, an all-day trattoria and bar, I couldn’t wait to see how it had turned out.
BungaTINI couldn’t be in a more ideal location on Drury Lane – in the heart of theatre-land, perfect for pre-and-post show dinner and cocktails or for those who work in Central London and want to grab a coffee in the morning or a bite to eat with colleagues at lunch.
BungaTINI is inspired by charming neighbourhood Italian restaurants and bars and has the all-day dining concept down perfectly. From 8am, they serve coffee and an array of delicious, home-made pastries warmed in the authentic Italian clay oven, ideal for those on the go. At lunchtime, swing by and check out a superb selection of salads, focaccia sandwiches, served hot or cold, pasta, or wood-fired pizzas by the slice (my favourite). When it comes time for Aperitivo hour, you can choose from a selection of Ciccheti – fennel sausage and mozzarella arancini or cherry mozzarella with oregano (to name a few), alongside antipasti plates like formaggi and salumi. Pair this with a refreshing tipple from the Aperitivo menu, and you’re set to win(e) down from a long day at work. Following Aperitivo hour comes dinner – which is spectacular at BungaTINI – an amazing Alla Carte menu that will have you salivating from the get-go.
The bar houses a large and fantastic selection of authentic Italian wines, beers, proseccos and vermouths as well as a range of top notch cocktails ideal for aperitivo hour or digestivo. I expected nothing less of Inception Group, as they always go big with all that they do.
BungaTINI is set over two floors, with downstairs being a more informal setting with high tables and a counter to eat and drink or head on up the spiral staircase to find a gorgeous mezzanine level with flowers and stone accents that look over the bar below. They’ve nailed it with the Sopranos-locale vibe. I felt as if I had stepped back into my Italian local in New Jersey – with the rich dark wood furniture, mosaic tiled floor, warm coloured walls and nostalgic artwork throughout. This place has character.
Moving on to the delicious food at last! All of the dishes at BungaTINI are authentic Italian and they really pride themselves on creating the real deal. Inception Group did their homework ahead of time, taking a tour through various regions in Italy, studying the food, the wine and the cocktails, to get it as close to authentic as they could get. And it paid off, because the food was outstanding. We kick started our Italian feast with the Pappa al pomodoro – San Marzano tomatoes and burrata with a side of fresh bread. The burrata is everything you could hope for – fresh, creamy, and full of flavour that Ciaran and I devoured within minutes. Calories don’t count on a Monday…
This Culatello, Gnocco Fritto (literally Parma Ham with Fried Dough) is out of this world. After all, what could be better than anything fried paired with salty parma ham? It was so good, I was literally cutting the Gnocco Fritto into smaller pieces to make it last longer. When you come to BungaTINI, order this for yourself, and don’t share with anybody.
Octopus, prawn & whitebait fritto misto with Martini vermouth mayo was also lovely – salty, crisp and moreish.
While the antipasti has that wow-factor, the pizzas are the real star of the show. Wood-fired, made in special clay ovens that they use in Italy, with BungaTINI’s own sourdough base, made in-house daily. We ordered the special white truffle pizza – tis the season for truffles after all. Truly, one of the best truffle pizzas I’ve had. If you like a thin crust pizza – you will love BungaTINI. One of the best Italian-style pizzas in London.
The verdict: I loved BungaTINI. They have invested so much time to creating an authentic product, which really shows. That’s what is great about the team from Inception Group though – they have fantastic attention to detail and never skimp on anything. You will always have a top notch experience at any of their venues and BungaTINI is simply brilliant. From the decor and staff to the food and drinks – it’s the perfect place in Central London for any occasion, no matter the time of day. Now that’s amore!