DINNER & DECOR: MELE E PERE
Following on with the Dinner & Decor series, I was invited down to Mele e Pere, an Italian trattoria in the heart of Soho. I took along my good friend Lois to come and help me test out the cuisine and admire the interior. With all cocktails under a tenner and a reputation for some of the best homemade style Italian food in London, of course we were up for it!
Mele e Pere is pretty unimposing from the outside, with what just looks like a casual Italian bar, albeit with a pretty cool neon sign! However, once you enter the bar you find a staircase which leads past a wall full of Murano glass apples and pears (mele e pere) to the surprisingly large basement, full of tantalising aromas and a warm welcoming vibe. The staff were particularly lovely, leading us to a cosy table in the corner of the restaurant. There seemed to be lots of tables of friends catching up over cocktails and good homemade food.
Mele e Pere is decorated in a contemporary version of a traditional trattoria. Some of the rustic charms remains, with warm woods, leather seating, soft lighting and traditional artwork. But a few unexpected pieces really make this place a ton more interesting than your average Italian restaurant - the full length copper bar top, the selection of Murano glass pieces, that neon sign.
So let's get to the food! I'd heard good things about their cocktails so we first went for a pear bellini and a glass of prosecco to warm up. For starters, we couldn't resist the deep fried squid with smoked aioli, which was just what was needed after a long day on set. To accompany we also took a baked aubergine dish and a steak tartare, which I'd never tried before!
The steak tartare was surprisingly light. Combined with the slice of crusty focaccia it was perfect and something I'll definitely have again. The fried squid was as you'd expect... delicious! Nice and crunchy and not too chewy with a GORGE aioli to go with it. The aubergine was the perfect addition to those two small plates as the rich tomatoey sauce and the rocket leaves cut through the meat and squid.
I could have eaten a few more of those small plates but of course we wanted to get into trying to main dish... I'd had my eye on the Prawn Chilli Bogoli, Lois on the Hake with Puy lentils and brown shrimp.
The portion sizes at Mele e Pere are just perfect! You can choose from a small or large portion of pasta which is great for me because I prefer to have a small portion of lots of things rather than one big meal. As you can see from the pic above it probably took me all of about 4 minutes to completely polish off my bogoli. It was delicious, just the right amount of hearty tomato sauce with some beautifully fresh and fragrant cherry tomatoes and a little saltiness provided from the black olives. Tasty!
As we ordered another couple of cocktails (at such affordable prices, why the hell not?!) I took a diversion to the ladies for the obligatory bathroom selfie. The bathrooms continued the rustic theme and incorporated the copper from the bartop, this time in the washbasins.
Really pretty and simple! Really loved the reclaimed wood surface and copper bowls.
Ok, enough of me hanging out in toilets. There was a cocktail awaiting me!
Were we getting a little tipsy at this point? Two nearly-thirty mums on a girls night?! What do you take us for?!
Lois went for the aye-pod (sacred cardamom gin, raspberry liqueur and blackberry puree on crushed ice), and I the Veneton mess (sweet strawberry vermouth, limoncello and cassis over crushed ice). Both - because yes of course I tasted both, were yummy! With all of the cocktails at Mele e Pere being under a tenner you can't go wrong really. I think it was a bit crap that I forgot to try the vermouth that they are so well known for but alas, at least I have another reason to go back! On the topic of price, Mele e Pere is really affordable. Mains are mostly under £20 with desserts and starters being around the £6 mark (or under).
All in all we had a great time at Mele e Pere, the service was lovely, the atmosphere welcoming and warm, the restaurant itself cosy and comforting and the food being an elevated version of great homecooked Italian grub. We both agreed that this was the perfect place for a girly catch up or a friends get together as that's what the atmosphere felt like to us. It didn't have any of that central London posey, pretentious vibe that eateries so often have. It felt like a place where no-one was judging you... just what I like!
RATING = 3.5 / 5
Have you ever visited Mele e Pere? Do you have a suggestion of where I should review next? Leave a comment below or check out my other Dinner & Decor restaurant reviews.